The story is heavily covered in international media. A 27-year-old pregnant Sudanese woman married to an American has been held shackled in prison for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. Amnesty International calls it a “flagrant breach of international human rights law”. New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte and Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri have written to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to grant political asylum. Other representatives and senators have taken similar actions.
Yet a quick search through Google News yields very few results from American mainstream media sources. Why?
The Daily Mail reports that Meriam Ibrahim (also referred to as Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag) a Sudanese doctor, was sentenced in a Khartoum court to death earlier this month after being found guilty of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying in 2011 a Christian man, Daniel Wani. The court ruled that the marriage was invalid and that she was guilty of apostasy and adultery. Meriam was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and to be hanged for apostasy.
Meriam was arrested last September when Daniel, a biochemist from Sudan who became a US citizen in 2005 and lives in Manchester, NH, was in Khartoum trying to arrange for her and their baby son Martin to live with him in the US. According to reports, Meriam’s brother, who is Muslim, filed the complaint against her in August – presumably when he became aware of the plan.
Meriam says her father was a Sudanese Muslim and her mother was Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. Her father left when she was 6, and she was raised as a Christian. But the courts consider Meriam to be a Muslim since her father was one, and thus her marriage to a non-Muslim man is void.
Meriam has been shackled since she has been in prison, in reportedly squalid conditions, and on Monday gave birth to a girl. Think about that: she was shackled the entire time she was pregnant. Her 20-month-old son Martin is with her. Think about that: a mother trying to care for her baby boy while shackled.
CNN reports that her lawyer said that Sudanese officials have said the toddler is free to leave any time. However, the Daily Mail notes that the authorities will not release Martin into the care of his father because they claim the child is a Muslim too, and thus Daniel does not have parental rights.
Yes, Fox News did report this story, in case you were wondering. They covered it from a religious freedom/Christian angle, as you would expect.
But NOWHERE, in any of the national or international reporting I have read has anyone asked this: are those American babies in that jail?
We’ve been through this who-is-an-American issue before, but let me refresh you with the facts and law: if even one parent is a citizen, the child, no matter where on earth it is born, is an American citizen:
8 U.S. Code § 1401 – Nationals and citizens of United States at birth
(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years….
Daniel, who emigrated to America in 1998 with his brother, has been a full citizen since 2005. If he has spent a total of five years between 2005 and today physically in the United States – which it looks like he has – then those children are Americans.
If the mainstream media is skittish about reporting this story because they don’t want to tiptoe around the political correctness of not criticizing some other country’s religion-based sharia laws (even though the United Nations states that they contravene international laws), then they can focus their reporting on this story hook: those are American babies in that jail.
Those are Americans in that jail. A woman who has done nothing wrong but be married to an American Christian is in that jail. We have a right and a duty, as well as a moral responsibility, to shine a harsh spotlight on that story.