by Oge Okonkwo
Daniel Wani, an overjoyed father is cradling his newly born baby Maya, born in jail to Meriam Ibrahim who is facing execution in Sudan for marrying a Christian.
The exclusive photo gotten by Daily Mail shows Wani lovingly holding his sleeping daughter for the first time.
Wani’s wife, Ibrahim gave birth yesterday in the hospital wing of the Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison in North Khartoum, Sudan, five days earlier than her expected delivery date.
Ibrahim who was arrested four months ago and thrown into prison has been shackled to the floor in jail, she was sentenced to death by hanging earlier this month for adultery and apostacy.
Her lawyer Mohaned Mustafa Elnour said the couple are ‘happy and proud’ of their new arrival and that it has brought a momentary ray of light to an otherwise bleak and desperate situation.
Mr Elnour: ‘This is a special moment for them. Daniel is delighted that he is able to see his new daughter so soon.
‘The family are taking some time to enjoy the birth before they return to fighting the injustice of Meriam’s sentence.”
Daily Mail reports:
Daniel, a 27-year-old biochemist who lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, also got the chance to hold his 20-month-old son Martin, who is being held in the barbaric prison with his mother.
The photo is especially poignant as Meriam will never see her beautiful daughter grow up. She is set to hang sometime in the next two years as the authorities said she will be executed when she has finished weaning Maya.
And before the birth, Meriam made the defiant claim that she would rather die than give up her faith.
In a heart-wrenching conversation with her husband during a rare prison visit, Meriam told him: ‘If they want to execute me then they should go ahead and do it because I’m not going to change my faith.’
Loving: Meriam and Daniel married in Sudan. Daniel left New Hampshire to visit her in Sudan and arrange for his wife and son to join him in America when she was arrested
An Islamic Sharia judge said she could be spared the death penalty if she publicly renounced her faith and becomes a Muslim once more.
Meriam insists she has always been a Christian and told her husband she could not ‘pretend to be a Muslim’ just to spare her life.
She told him: ‘I refuse to change. I am not giving up Christianity just so that I can live.
‘I know I could stay alive by becoming a Muslim and I would be able to look after our family, but I need to be true to myself.’
Daniel revealed his wife’s defiant stance during an exclusive interview with MailOnline at his modest home in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
Sitting beneath glamorous photographs of his wife taken at their wedding in December 2011, he said: ‘My wife is very, very strong. She is stronger than me.
‘When they sentenced her to death I broke down and tears were streaming down my eyes. Our lawyers were passing me tissues. But she stayed strong.
‘She did not flinch when she was sentenced. It was amazing to see, particularly because she is the one facing the death penalty.’
Daniel was in Khartoum trying to arrange for Meriam and their 20-month-old son, Martin, to live with him in the US when his wife was arrested in September. She was three weeks pregnant with their second child.
The authorities will not release Martin into the care of his father because they claim he is a Muslim too.
Rotten care: Martin is given a drink by prison guards. Daniel is desperate to be allowed to take him home and is fiercely critical of the U.S. Embassy for failing to help them and Martin in particular, who is American
But witnesses who were willing to give evidence on her behalf were barred from testifying because they were Christian.
She even produced a marriage certificate identifying herself as a Christian.
Despite this, the judge determined that because her father was a Muslim, even though he abandoned the family while they were living in a refugee camp in the South East of Sudan when she was six, she too was a Muslim who had broken the law by leaving Islam.
But her mother, who is now dead, brought her up as Christian. Her mother was born in Ethiopia to Christian parents, but fled to Sudan because of famine, and chose to raise her daughter in the same religion.
Meriam was arrested in mid-September, three weeks after her second child was conceived.
At first the couple dismissed the allegations against them as trivial, but when the case grew more serious Daniel went to the American Embassy in Khartoum for help.
‘I thought this would be the one place which would help me, but they told me they didn’t have time to do anything,’ Daniel said. ‘I was upset because now that I am American citizen I thought they would help me.
‘I was threatened. They said “well your wife isn’t American, so we can’t help”. I felt disgusted. My home is in America and still they won’t help. It’s getting uglier and it’s not going in the right direction.’
Mr Wani said the State Department asked him to provide DNA evidence proving that Martin was his biological son.
He added: ‘I have provided wedding documents and the baby’s birth certificate, but this is clearly not enough. It’s very upsetting that they don’t believe me.
‘They want me to take a DNA sample in Khartoum, then send it to the US for testing. It’s as if they don’t believe a word I say.’
The Sharia court has postponed her sentence, to give her time to recover from childbirth and to wean the new baby.
Her lawyer, Mohaned Mustafa Elnour, a Muslim, has received death threats for defending her but has already lodged an appeal. If he does not succeed at the Appeal Court, he will take the case to Sudan’s Supreme Court.
Fighting for justice: The legal team from the Justice centre in Sudan trying to free Meriam Ibrahim includes (l to r) Thabit Alzubain, Mohned Mustafa, Mohammed Abdalnabe, Osman Mobarek, Elshareef Ali
Mr Elnour said the case hinges around the testimony of two men who claim to be her brothers, and one woman who claims to be her mother.
In court they claimed that she had disappeared from the family home in a small village in the east of Sudan and then discovered her living in Khartoum, married to a Christian man.
But the lawyer said all three witnesses have proven to be liars because their evidence to the court has been highly contradictory.
He suggested that the trio are making up their story in an attempt to claim ownership of Meriam’s flourishing general store in a shopping mall on the outskirts of Khartoum.
Mr Elnour added: ‘We can prove that Meriam’s mother died in 2012 and that the two others are definite fraudsters. But the court is not interested in our evidence.’
A petition calling for her release had last week reached more than 661,000.
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