Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement regarding the freedom of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for refusing to recant her Christian faith, and her family. Since May, Rubio has advocated on behalf of Meriam and her family, passing a resolution through the Senate that called for her immediate and unconditional release from a Sudanese prison.
“We should all be relieved and elated that Meriam and her children are finally free. As Christians around the world are being persecuted, attacked and even killed, Meriam's freedom is good news in an otherwise depressing state of affairs. I want to thank all those who have been working tirelessly to secure Meriam's freedom, particularly our Italian allies who helped deliver her and her family to their free soil over the past 24 hours.
“Meriam leaves behind a Sudan plagued by religious intolerance and laws that explicitly ban the universally guaranteed right of all people to practice their faiths as they wish. If we do not keep up the pressure on the Sudanese government to change, there will continue to be other Meriams.
“Meriam is just one of thousands, potentially millions, of Christians worldwide whose lives are in danger because of their religious beliefs. The U.S. government must continue to make religious freedom a core of our global human rights agenda, by speaking out for those being denied it and using every tool at our disposal to pressure repressive governments to recognize the virtues of tolerance and religious pluralism.
“As the State Department prepares to use its platform next Monday to highlight threats to religious freedom around the world through its annual International Religious Freedom report, I also call on the administration to back its words with actions. This means targeting religious freedom violators with sanctions under existing law, as well as finally taking the long overdue step of filling the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. There is no excuse for this important post to have gone vacant as it has for nine months.”