Obama and the rest of the world need to come to the aid of a Sudanese woman sentenced to death.
It only took about a month, but now the entire country is following the unfolding story of the more than 200 Nigerian girls who were abducted from their school by an Islamic terrorist group called Boko Haram, which reportedly means “western education is sinful.” News accounts indicate the group’s leader has repeatedly threatened to sell the girls, leading some commentators to upbraid the United States and the Obama administration for its seeming indifference to their plight.
Negotiations between the Nigerian government and the kidnappers have repeatedly broken down, according to news reports, as tensions rise. Though they have now reportedly been located, Nigerian Defense Chief Air Marshal Alex Badeh said Monday there would be no effort to rescue them, lest they all be killed.
The American response to this tragedy has largely been confined to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, with no less than first lady Michelle Obama posting a picture of herself holding a sign with a hashtag urging the girls’ release.
In one sense, all the attention was helpful; people now know about the crisis and are paying attention. In another though, it only served as a reminder to those paying attention how impotent the United States has become. If hashtags are the best the world’s only remaining superpower can do when confronted with an incident like this, then we probably need to rethink our position in the world and seriously consider just who it is we want to be America’s next commander in chief.
For all their noise, it seems strange that the modern feminist movement in America isn’t saying more about the treatment of women in Africa and the Islamic crescent. The stories we hear, when we hear them, of what happens to young girls seeking an education in places like Nigeria and Pakistan and Iran are simply heartbreaking. They are harassed, beaten, raped, shot and worse, simply because they are seeking knowledge and want to become something when they grow up. The way they are treated is unconscionable, and America’s silence on the subject is an international disgrace.
It may be that the issue is simply too big for the feminists to confront, or they just have no idea what to do. They’ve figured out how to make the case for universal abortion rights and access to birth control, but when it comes to the ability to become educated, they just don’t seem to be able to sell it. Perhaps it just isn’t as good for fund-raising as raising the cry against genital mutilation. Or maybe they just can’t be bothered.
There’s another case out there that the feminists aren’t following – just like they weren’t following events in Nigeria until it became ”hot” – but they should be, and shame on them for keeping silent.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim is currently under a sentence of death in Sudan. Her crime? According to a Sudanese court, Ibrahim renounced her Islamic faith in favor of Christianity, and so, in accordance with Islamic law, she must be put to death.
According to CNN, Ibrahim says that while her father was a Sudanese Muslim, he left when she was six. Her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox, opted to raise her as a Christian. Sudanese Parliament speaker Fatih Izz Al-Deen, the network said in its reporting, says the claim that Ibrahim was raised as non-Muslim is untrue, that she was raised in an Islamic environment, and that her brother, who is Muslim, filed the complaint against her.
Ibrahim was given until May 15 to renounce her faith but refused and, now that her baby has been born, is awaiting the result of an appeal to the nation’s highest court. If it affirms the lower court ruling, which is likely, she could be put to death immediately or after the child is weaned.
Either way the outcome is morally unacceptable, all the more so because her husband, Daniel Wani, is an American citizen. Yet the Obama administration again appears powerless to help.
Likewise, there’s apparently been no high-profile private diplomacy. No cabinet secretaries, current or former, have been jumping on planes and no members of Congress, Republican or Democrat, have flown over to demand they be allowed to meet with her and check on her condition. It’s almost as though she doesn’t exist.
This situation has been allowed to go on for far too long. One would think there would be daily demonstrations outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C., and at the New York consulate where the United Nations’ delegation is housed. So far, though, nothing. Nor do the television networks have teams on the ground in Khartoum covering the unfolding drama of this very brave woman who refuses to renounce her faith, who puts her trust in God and is depending on Him to deliver her from her captivity much as He did Daniel in the lions’ den and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from King Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace.
Her faith is a testament to a kind of courage sorely lacking among those American women who purport to speak for women all over the world. They have not the courage of their convictions, at least as far as Meriam Ibrahim is concerned, and they should be ashamed. Just as the kidnapped girls of Nigeria deserve our attention, support and more, so does she. By week’s end, let’s hope her name is as commonplace as Boko Haram now is, and that President Barack Obama will come to her defense, on behalf of the United States and the rest of the world.
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Peter Roff is a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Formerly a senior political writer for United Press International, he’s now affiliated with several public policy organizations including Let Freedom Ring, and Frontiers of Freedom.