Sudanese woman who had faced execution for conversion arrives in U.S.

Reuters
Mariam Yahya Ibrahim of Sudan holds one of children next to Lapo Pistelli, Italy's vice minister for foreign affairs, holding her other child, as they land at Ciampino airport in Rome
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Mariam Yahya Ibrahim of Sudan (R) holds one of her children next to Lapo Pistelli (L), Italy's vice minister for foreign affairs, holding her other child, as they land at Ciampino airport in Rome July 24, 2014. The Sudanese woman who was spared a death sentence for converting from Islam to Christianity and then barred from leaving Sudan flew into Rome on Thursday. REUTERS/Remo Casilli (ITALY - Tags: RELIGION POLITICS CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

By Scott Malone

MANCHESTER N.H. (Reuters) - A Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death for converting from Islam to Christianity, then detained after her conviction was quashed, arrived in the United States on Thursday.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim was scheduled on Thursday evening to arrive in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she has relatives, her brother-in-law Gabriel Wani said in a phone interview.

"I'm very happy," Wani said as he waited for Ibrahim to arrive at Manchester airport. "I have been waiting for this for a long time."

Since leaving Sudan after her sentence and detention triggered international outrage, Ibrahim has been in Rome, where she met with Pope Francis along with her husband and two children.

She first touched down in the United States at Philadelphia International Airport, where she briefly met with that city's mayor, Michael Nutter.

"It's very clear she is a tremendously strong woman," Nutter told reporters after greeting Ibrahim and giving her family a toy version of the Liberty Bell, one of the city's historic artifacts. "Ibrahim is a world freedom fighter."

Ibrahim, 27, was sentenced to death in May on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American.

Her conviction was quashed in June, but Sudan's government accused her of trying to leave the country with falsified papers, preventing her departure for the United States.

Renouncing the Islamic faith is punishable by death under many countries' interpretation of Islamic law.

(Additional reporting by Daniel Kelley in Philadelphia; Editing by Bill Trott and Ken Wills)

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