Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese mom who was sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, arrived Thursday in the U.S. after an international campaign to save her. Ibrahim, 27, landed at the Manchester, New Hampshire, airport shortly after 8 p.m. ET, with her husband, Daniel Wani, and their children, Martin and Maya, on a flight from Rome, where they'd taken refuge for the past week after a month of diplomatic negotiations won her release.
Ibrahim doesn't speak English, but with tears streaming down his face, Wani, a U.S. citizen from southern Sudan, said how happy he was that he and his family were on safe ground. Members of Sudanese Evangelical Covenant Church in Manchester, which has one of the largest expatriate south Sudanese communities in the U.S., were also on hand after having spent more than a month preparing for their arrival. While in Rome, Ibrahim — who gave birth to Maya while she was in a Sudanese prison — was blessed by Pope Francis, who praised her "courageous witness to faith."
The Rev. Joel Kruggel, pastor of Bethany Covenant Church, which sponsors the Sudanese congregation, told NBC News the next step would be to get the family out of Wani's studio apartment and into a larger home. "There's been tons of support. There's been tons of love," he said Thursday night. Now the community is focused on helping the family "absorb the fact that they are safe in New Hampshire, where life can be closer to normal."
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— M. Alex Johnson and Kelly Paice