Meriam Ibrahim is out of the prison state of Sudan and in the free world. Sentenced to death for apostasy by Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa and forced to give birth to her baby while shackled to the wall in the filthy women's prison at Omdurman, Meriam was released after her case received publicity in the civilized world. She, her husband and their two children are now in Rome, after an Italian government plane and the deputy foreign minister, Lapo Pistelli, were dispatched to Khartoum to fly her out.
I wrote about the Ibrahim case in previous SteynPosts here and here, in part because Meriam's husband, Daniel Wani, is a fellow Granite Stater. A US citizen, Mr Wani lives down south in Manchester, New Hampshire. That makes the couple's children, young Martin and his newborn sister Maya, also American. And yet Judge Al-Khalifa ordered Meriam's two-year-old son be imprisoned with her. As I said two months ago:
So we live in a world where a US citizen's children can be stolen from him by a barbarous basket-case. When will the "Leader of the Free World" speak up for these young innocents who are owed the protection of his somnolent bureaucracy?
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.
Just to reiterate what happened here: A barbarian regime seized an American's family and jailed them - and throughout their imprisonment no one in the United States Government did anything and neither the President nor his Secretary of State said a word. The British and Canadians helped, and the Italians sent a government plane and the deputy foreign minister. The Pope had time for the Wani family, but not President Fundraiser. As I wrote two months ago:
On Saturday, President Obama issued a Tweet in observance of International Anti-Homophobia Day:
'"No one should face violence or discriminationâ€”no matter who they are or whom they love." â€”President Obama'
Fine words, but, as is often the case with this man, utterly empty. An American citizen is about to have his life ruined because of "whom they love". Daniel Wani suffered discrimination from the US Government because he fell in love with Meriam Ibrahim. And, because of that discrimination, he now faces violence from the Sudanese Government, which presently has his entire family - his wife and unborn child, and his two-year-old son - shackled in Khartoum...
Those children are American citizens, and this is not a Sudanese news story but an American one.
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.