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Another Update on Meriam Ibrahim

According to this article in The Independent, Meriam Ibrahim has arrived safely in Italy following an anxious month spent in the American embassy in Khartoum. The Italians brought her to safety about a plane owned by the Roman authorities. Concerning the plight of this courageous woman, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi apparently had this to say:

"If there is no European reaction we cannot feel worthy to call ourselves 'Europe.'"

I had begun to lose hope that we would hear such a statement from a European head of state in my lifetime. I know next to nothing about Mr. Renzi, of course, but he is to be commended for his act of mercy, and his public acknowledgement of the injustice that was done to Mrs. Ibrahim.

From this point forward, we might say that no news is good news where Ibrahim and her family are concerned. They will live in hiding for the remainder of their lives, no doubt, but this will be the least of the crosses she has been asked to bear.

Comments (4)

Excellent. I heard it here first! Thanks for keeping up on this, Sage. Who would have expected Italy to step up to the plate like this? Kudos to the Italian PM.

Mark Steyn has a good piece on this story and the sad American response:

Well, President Fundraiser still hasn't said a word, even though, to coin a phrase, if he had a son, he'd look like Martin Wani. But lots of other people have spoken up:
Prime Minister Renzi mentioned Ibrahim's case in his speech to inaugurate Italy's six-month European Union presidency earlier this month.

"If there is no European reaction we cannot feel worthy to call ourselves 'Europe'," Renzi said.

Which comes over as a bit Euro-pompous on this side of the Atlantic, but it's better than two months of chirping crickets waiting for President Nothing to say something in between golf and fundraisers. And the Prime Minister is not wrong. Given what is happening to Christians across the Muslim world, from Nigeria to Sudan to Iraq to Pakistan, when an obviously outrageous case comes up, it's incumbent upon free nations to raise hell about it.

So Mr Renzi, his wife Agnese, and the Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini were there to greet the Wani family at the airport. Meriam carried her daughter Maya down the steps of the plane, and, because Mr Wani is in a wheelchair, Deputy Foreign Minister Pistelli carried young Martin. Later the family went to the Vatican for a private audience with the Pope.

All along, there has been a curious absence in this story. While Meriam and her children were held in Omdurman prison, her meetings with her lawyers were coordinated through the British Embassy. Giving birth in a Sudanese jail is no picnic and potentially life-threatening for the newborn so the Canadian Embassy donated an air-conditioning unit and other items.

Yet, according to her husband Daniel, a US citizen, his own embassy did nothing except erect bureaucratic obstacles toward getting his wife a permit to travel back to New Hampshire with him. Because of their sloth and delay and obstructiveness, she wound up being jailed, and then giving birth in jail - to a US citizen. Only when Meriam was released and then re-arrested at the airport when officials claimed her South Sudanese papers were forged did her husband's government rouse itself to assist.

New Hampshire's senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte both spoke up for Meriam Ibrahim, but the President and Secretary of State stayed silent to the end, leaving public words and deeds to European counterparts and to the Pope.

It's touching, isn't it, to think of the Assistant Secretary of Paperwork at the US Embassy in Khartoum wanting to cross every "t" and dot every "i" before he lets the wife of a US citizen fly to America. Meanwhile, at the southern border, the message to all seven billion people across the planet is, if you can get to the north shore of the Rio Grande, you can stay. Everyone is entitled to boundless "compassion" from the immigration bureaucracy of the United States Government - except apparently actual US citizens and their families in trouble around the world.


Maybe you don't care about Meriam Ibrahim. Maybe you think, if Daniel Wani's so American, he should have settled down with some nice Granite State lass from Grafton or Coos. Maybe you're not bothered by the fact that, at the dawn of Christianity's third millennium, many of the oldest Christian communities on earth are being systemically eliminated by governments like that of Sudan. Or maybe you just think the America media's drooling coverage of fake presidential burger-joint photo-ops is gripping Pulitzer-winning stuff that doesn't leave time to follow anything else.

But it helps sometimes to stop and listen carefully to all the things a president isn't saying, because they tell you a lot - about your rulers and their priorities, and how it's likely to go should you ever need them to be there for you. And the silence of Barack Obama throughout the long months of one American's ordeal is very eloquent.

I thank the Pope and the Italian Prime Minister and his colleagues, and I wish Daniel Wani and his family a safe journey home to Manchester.

Steyn is always at his best when he is writing that kind of biting prose.

Here's another question: Given the combo of bungling and silence by the American foreign policy bureaucracy, why did they house her in the embassy for a month? Was it just a feeling of shame for having not gotten her out of the mess more adroitly and not having tried harder sooner? Or perhaps are there actually different people involved in deciding whether to let someone hide out in the embassy?

I cannot forget the episode of "Yes, Prime Minister" (BBC @ 1988), in which a British nurse is imprisoned in an Arab country for some minor offense. The Foreign Minister tells the PM, so advised by his Foreign Office, that "nothing can be done for her". A private citizen goes over and meets with officials and gets her out. When the PM calls the Foreign Minister on the carpet for his mistakes, he blandly declares "But if it had been left in the hands of the Foreign Office, it WOULD have been impossible to do anything for her."

It would be good to know WHY, specifically, Obama and his people did nothing for the family for so long. It hardly bears thinking that they simply didn't even ask the question - that kind of ineptness is almost impossible. So, was it sheer unwillingness to help a Christian? Or was it something more in the line of realpolitik where they had other agendas in motion? I suppose we will never know for real, but there's a great story for an enterprising journalist to pry open.

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