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One Mother’s Escape From A Sudanese Death Sentence... to America

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
June 9, 2023 3:05 am

One Mother’s Escape From A Sudanese Death Sentence... to America

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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June 9, 2023 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, our next story comes to us from Mariam Ibrahim, who lives in Virginia. But the story begins far from there.

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Let's take a listen. I am Maryam Ibrahim. I was born on November 3rd, 1987 in a refugee camp in the city of Qadarif from Sudan. My mother flee war from Ethiopia when she's 10 years old with her sister. They lost all their families and they are the only survived members of the family. And they settled in a refugee's camp. When my mom was 16, she met with my father and they got married. My father originally from Darfur. The background of the story is that he killed a man from a different tribe, but the man is an honor killing because the man is in a relationship with my aunt, my father's younger sister. So my father find out about them they meet and know each other. So he gets so angry and he went on and killed the man.

And when he come to this far away area just to hide because the other family are seeking revenge. So that's why he met with my mom. Later after my youngest sister was born, the situation get really very bad. I remember lots of the fight where she been beaten and when we came, my father and I went in the middle to stop the fighting, we beaten also. So he left and they got divorced.

We decided to move from the refugee's camp. I always have many question about my father's family. When we moved to that place, she have to change our last name and everything. Because I didn't know this until later on the time. That's what I always question her like, why you don't want us to know my daddy's family? Why you don't want us to be connected to them?

So she run that actually for our protection. Yeah, so we moved to that city and it's actually a lot of Muslim groups in that area. So I have my youngest brother, his name is Hassan and the youngest sister. So my brother was totally different than my mom and I because his extreme is Muslim. And then when we moved to the big city, he really fell to the trap of the Imams. My mom was really upset for him. Like if she ever tried like to stop him or do, she get immediate, get killed. So she tried her best to convince him.

I did try my best, but he didn't help. So in Sudan and many Muslim countries, all students, no matter what your religion, you have to pass those four subject, Arabic, English, math and Islamic study. Islamic study include study Aghida, Quran and Sunnah. Quran, you study Quran, full Quran, okay? You memorize the scripture.

Sunnah about the life of Muhammad and then Aghida about the life of the Sahaba and how we supposed to do married in business. They have a structure for everything you do. Even the way like use the bathroom, marriage, the way you communicate with unbeliever, the way you do a wall, the way you do business with bank account, managing money, everything.

So we have to do that. Like I have all the knowledge about Quran. And then in that situation, I was targeted by my teachers because we are Christian and I sitting next to Muslim student and you hear the teacher, you know, say it louder and you have to repeat after her the verses that are saying how to treat the unbeliever and how God will punish them and how they are bad they are, you know, how they go to hell. And it was like, I don't want to repeat after her. So they start like talking to me.

No, you have to follow this. You have to say this because Allah said and Muhammad said and I just don't want it. Like, I don't want it. The same time when I come home, I tell my mom that, oh no, don't do that. They're gonna kill you.

That's what my mom will say. And I'm like, I have seen these people always respond to the aggressive behavior of Imams and Muslims and leaders. The response from the religious minority is that we got to do what they want to be in peace. I'm like, that isn't peace, that's weakness.

And I always argue with them. So close to my graduation, I lost my sister first and then a few months later, my mom passed away. She work, she had a restaurant on the highway between the city of Galabat border and Gadarif. And one of the things she does, she help.

There's a lot of human trafficking, smuggling in that area. And one of the thing my mom did is when those smuggler bring in those girls, she questioned them. She sees them like nine, 10 years old. So she, when she questioned them, she offered them help if you needed help. So, and she went on report that. But the corrupt officers went on and told the smuggler, this woman, you have to be careful about this woman because she start talking to the girls you guys bring in. Girls and boys. So I get to know her, she was not, there was an accident as I was told.

And it was, yeah. So the other, now here, my mom died and spend a lot of time with the nuns. I get to know my sister-in-law.

She's in a wheelchair and my priest would like, you Miriam are the only person I would trust. So that's how we became friends. And then I get to know her brother. I get married to him. So after I have my oldest, my first child, when my husband left, he was in, he live in the United States. So he come and go to Sudan.

So after our marriage, he came to United States and I was, he left me pregnant with our first child. So I started my own business. My mom left farming land and she left the house and she left some saving for me. So I use that and I started business. I sold her restaurant.

I did very well on that. And then out of the sudden, my husband also went back to Sudan at that time. My son was crawling. And then I started receiving this phone call about family members that are looking for me. And then we come from them to police, receive a phone call, have to go to the police station, question, this is your family and they want you back. And I'm like, that's why my mom always not wanted me to connect with you guys. So, and I find out they know where I live and everything. Like, why don't you guys come and lock my door because we know you're living a wrong life.

So what do you mean? Because we know you go to church and you're married to Christian. And I'm holding my son. I told the officer, I have a family of my own now.

Why are they? That's not family. The family don't bring their daughter to the police station. So he said, no, this is their family and they want you to back. And they are right.

The officer said they are right because if you're their daughter, your father is a Muslim. You're not supposed to be living this life. So you break too many laws. I said, really? I'm like, who did I kill? Who did I hurt? So I'm like building a business is that providing jobs for many people, including even like refugee people in that area.

So like, no, you are committing adultery. And you've been listening to Miriam Ibrahim share her story of life in Sudan before he came to America to live in Virginia. When we come back, more of this remarkable story here on Our American Stories. TV, whether it's movies, shows or gaming you're into, they'll love the intense color, unmatched brightness and incredible clarity on this big screen TV.

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Let's pick up where we last left off with Miriam and her story. So in September, 2013, go in back to court every day, just question who you are. They say their name, Muslim name, and I say my Christian name, and I say I'm Christian. They said she's Muslim. So the judge wanted me just to say, accept what they said. And, you know, I said, okay, you're Muslim. Go to your family. I said, what's going to happen to my children, my child?

At the time, I didn't know I was pregnant. So my child, we have to go see the orphan because he's a little child. And then you're going to get flogged with lashes and go to your family. And on Christmas Eve of 2013, I was sent to jail because I responded like, you know, you can't respond as a girl, as a woman. You don't dare to open it, to look at the judge's face or talk to him.

You can't do that. So you're just to be bowing your head down and covering your face, your hair, and just quiet, not even breathing, like, you know, then even. So, and before I go to jail, I have to go through to do medical tests and then including pregnancy. And I really wasn't prepared to have a second child at that time.

Martin is young, but this trial stopped happening and I don't think it was a good time. I mean, but gods have a different world. They said, you're pregnant. I'm like, what?

I'm going to jail, getting a news that I'm pregnant. I'm supposed to be really happy. I was happy, but like, what, how? I mean, just, you know, I'm very confused and I'm very upset. I'm freaked out. So I was sent there and these other women, when I walk in, all the face bruises and so sad and horrible situation. I'm holding my son.

So somehow Martin was long day. He just fell asleep and I just closed my eyes and said, let me pray. So when out of the sun and I hear this deep voice, you are not alone. And I opened my eyes and I'm like, what did you say? Who you are?

Where are you? I'm like, so the other women in the cell start laughing and they call the office and say I'm crazy. They put chance on my feet, chance because my crime is in adultery and apostasy now.

And I'm supposed to receive death sentence for apostasy and hundred lashes for adultery. But I didn't read the sentence, give me three days, the judge. So I remember on the track back from court to prison, I was praying and I was like, okay, God, three days. And it just like, oh, Jonah was in the well for three days. Jesus was in the tomb for three days. This have to be miracles that I really, you really have for me.

And I'm just waiting for that miracle. We're back again to the end of the trial. I walk in, I was put up in the cage and there's like 50 officer around the cage.

Big like kid and there's pension there. The imam came in and then the judge came in. He asked me to stand up and he was very angry.

The judge was very angry. So he asked me again, I'm gonna ask one more time. Are you Muslim or Christian? And he would say my Islamic name, Abraar. And I said, I am a Christian.

And I was always Christian and I'll always be. So because a lot of people really can see in their eyes, they wanted me to say what he said really, because death, you're gonna die. But they don't see what I see, like they don't see what I see. Like I see fear onto his eyes, but that's what they know me.

That's what they know my heart. And I do that moment really felt so bad for him to be in that position. And I just remembering that the word Jesus had said on the cross, that when he was crucified, Father forgive them for they did not know what they are doing. So I received my sentence that day, but the end of the sentence, that day, but the end of his word, because you are pregnant, and that was my miracle. Because you are pregnant, you're given two years. You give birth and as a child.

I give birth two years and as a child. And then after the child turned two years, they took him to the orphan and they held my execution. So my church is involved. That's how the Vatican get involved.

And then my husband is a U.S. citizen, my children are U.S. citizen. The first thing we start ask before we get sent to jail, we knock the embassy's door and we ask for help. It just happened that they was called into the office and I was told to bring all my other children and all my items, my stuff.

I wasn't even given a chance to say bye to the other inmates and the ladies I know. So I left prison, from prison, I was asked to go find a safe place because my house is no longer safe place. And U.S. embassy is almost like outside Khartoum City. So we stayed at the embassy for a month and then that night, just we've been called, I left Sudan to Italy. I said, they asked where I want to stay in Italy and I really wanted to come to the state because that's what I feel.

It's my children where they belong to. So yeah, I was told to escape Sudan before, during my trial and everything. And I said, no, I'm not going to do that. Like, I'm not, you know, going to do that. That's why I was called crazy. I was called stupid. I'm not smart.

I don't know how to, you know, to play well. But it just wasn't easy for me because my faith and my beliefs is not like a jacket or a mask I would wear when I'm safe and then take off. It's the way I would live my life. The way I made a decision that knowing my relationship with God is not involve anyone else.

It's between me and him. That's the thing that my mom would tell me, teaches me always. She's telling me, she's telling me like, don't let anyone to put fear into your heart because if it does happen, that's how you control you. I mean, you know, but fear and come control. With fear come control. So, and God said, don't fear. And I know he, I wasn't afraid of the threat of the enemies of their, no matter how they try to think themselves are big and strong, but I see them weak. I see them terrorists. I see them, they use terror, they use fear, but I don't comply with that because none of, not my life or my future, anything that is not in their hands, it's in God's hand.

So yeah, I'm here today. I'm in United States, my children, Martin is nine months, nine years old, from nine months old in prison to nine years old now. My daughter is seven. They love Jesus. They go to Catholic school.

They serve Martin as an altar server at the church. Maya want to do music when she get her first communion. She going to get her first communion on May. So she want to do music ministry and she love to sing. She do a ballet.

She do Martin do basketball. They do karate, they're Cub Scout. We, I volunteer a lot on the community with the women's shelter.

So they help me with stuff like that. There's a lot of good stuff. And a terrific job on the production and storytelling by Greg. And a special thanks to Miriam Ibrahim for sharing her story, her family's story. The book is shackled one woman's dramatic triumph over persecution, gender abuse, and a death sentence. And you can get it at your local bookstores or wherever you buy your books. What a trial scene this is.

It's better than anything in the movies that I've seen. And I'm almost visualizing what this was like for her to sit there and have to answer, are you a Muslim or a Christian? And in America, we don't do that. George Washington wrote a letter to a synagogue in Rhode Island assuring them religious bigotry would not be sanctioned in this country. And he wrote these words, for happily the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

And those words are true. It's why Miriam brought her family to the United States. A story of religious persecution, and in the end, a story of courage and triumph. Miriam Ibrahim's story here on Our American Stories.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-09 04:51:39 / 2023-06-09 05:00:53 / 9

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