- - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The news is not always bad, though it sometimes seems that way. Madeleine K. Albright, the former secretary of state, says that “the world is in a mess,” and who argues with that? But in the gathering gloom, there’s an occasional shaft of sunlight, and caught in the light is Meriam Ibrahim, 27, her husband Daniel Wani and their son, Martin, age 18 months, and Maya, age one month. They’re free at last, recuperating from a remarkable ordeal and soon to be on their way to their new home in America.

Only a month ago, Mrs. Ibrahim lay in a squalid prison cell in Sudan, recovering from a particularly difficult childbirth, having to mind not one but two children, dealing with her new daughter, worried about her ailing husband waiting for her outside the prison, all the while under a sentence of death by hanging.

Mrs. Ibrahim is a heroine of Christian faith, held in awe by men and women of good will throughout the world for her steadfastness under unspeakable stress. She was convicted in a Sudanese court, more suitable for kangaroos than for people, of the “crime” of apostasy, of abandoning the Islamic religion of her father, who abandoned the family when Mrs. Ibrahim was a small child. Her mother was a Christian, and raised Meriam as one. But that doesn’t count in Sudan, and a Sudanese court said she must be flogged by 100 lashes, and then hanged. If she would renounce her Christian faith, she would be freed.

“Well,” she said from her tiny cell, which she shared with her son while awaiting the birth of Maya, “they might as well hang me now, because I will not renounce my Christian faith.”

Her jailers mocked her and tried to persuade her to renounce her faith, and when it was time to deliver her baby they made it as difficult for her as they could, keeping her shackled and even refused to remove the chains from her legs as she gave birth. Her husband had to wait outside in his wheelchair for the news that he was the father of a daughter.

Pressure on the corrupt Sudanese government grew in Europe. Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, and the leader of the opposition Labor Party, called her imprisonment “intolerable.” The Dutch government urged her release. President Obama kept strangely silent as though unaware of the diplomatic tempest. Mr. Wani, an American citizen, said the American Embassy was not helpful. But then the Sudan Supreme Court ordered her release and within hours she and her husband and children raced to the airport to start a journey to the United States. But at the airport, a battery of security soldiers waited to impose more delay. They accused her of forging her travel documents.

At last the American Embassy bestirred itself on behalf of an American citizen and his family in distress, agreeing in the face of mounting pressure in the United States to give the family shelter at the embassy, where they would be safe while negotiations continued. The Italian government went to work, joined by the Vatican. Sudan relented, Italy dispatched a plane and a deputy foreign minister to Khartoum to fetch the family. Mrs. Ibrahim was told to prepare at once to leave Sudan, and learned her destination only when the plane arrived in Rome, where the prime minister met them. Pope Francis greeted her within hours, hailing her as an exemplar for faithful Christians everywhere. Soon she will arrive in her new home in Manchester, N.H., where the Sudanese immigrant community plans an American welcome.

So who says the news is always bad?

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