Speeches & Floor Statements

Floor Speech: The Plight of Meriam Ibrahim

June 24, 2014 - June 24, 2014

The senator from Texas is on his way to the floor to talk about Meriam Ibrahim.  He has been regularly joined by other senators, including Senators Ayotte, Rubio, Inhofe, Shaheen, and Coons and many others who share my deep concern.  Hundreds of Tennesseans have written and called my office about this situation. 

I am outraged by this blatant attack on religious freedom, and I join my colleagues in demanding that the president and the State Department act immediately to help Ms. Ibrahim.

Meriam found herself in this situation because she was born to a Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother.  Meriam’s father abandoned the family when Meriam was 6 years old, so she was raised as a Christian.  Meriam later married Daniel, an American citizen, who is also a Christian.  The Sudanese Government considers Meriam a Muslim, even though she is a devout Christian.

When Meriam was ordered to renounce her faith, she refused.  For that crime, the Sudanese Government condemned her to death.  She was convicted and sentenced to receive 100 lashes and then be hanged.  To make matters worse, she was pregnant with her daughter when this happened.  Her son is less than 2 years old and was forced to live in a women's prison outside Khartoum, where they were held until Monday.  Monday we learned Meriam was to be released, but that was a celebration that was short-lived because yesterday she and her family were detained at the airport.

President Obama and the State Department should immediately demand that the Sudanese Government follow their own court's orders and release Meriam and her family.  The harassment and targeting of this family must stop immediately.  The State Department should be prepared to act quickly to help them leave Sudan as soon as possible.

Occasionally we wonder if words spoken on this floor matter, but in this case I believe they have.  This is an outrageous incident that has seared the conscience of Americans and people all over the world.  I know in Tennessee many families care about it.  I wish to thank Senator Cruz as well as Senators Ayotte and Rubio and Inhofe and Shaheen and Coons – senators on both sides of the aisle – who have used this forum, this tribunal, to talk about the case of Meriam Ibrahim and her plight.  It is our hope that the attention, the spotlight, placed on this matter will help her be released and that our administration will continue its efforts to register our strong concern.

I am here to express the feelings of hundreds of Tennesseans but also to congratulate Senator Cruz and the other senators on both sides of the aisle who have done such an effective job of letting the world know about Meriam Ibrahim and her plight.