Sleeping peacefully in the arms of her father, this is precious baby Maya born in jail to the woman facing execution in Sudan for marrying a Christian U.S. citizen.
Our exclusive picture shows father Daniel Wani holding his daughter for the first time.
Daniel’s wife Meriam Ibrahim gave birth to Maya five days early in the hospital wing at Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison in North Khartoum yesterday.
Meriam has spent the past four months shackled to the floor in a disease-ridden jail after being sentenced to death by hanging earlier this month for converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian man.
Her lawyer Mohaned Mustafa Elnour said the couple are ‘happy and proud’ of their new arrival and that it has brought a momentary ray of light to an otherwise bleak and desperate situation.
Mr Elnour: ‘This is a special moment for them. Daniel is delighted that he is able to see his new daughter so soon.
‘The family are taking some time to enjoy the birth before they return to fighting the injustice of Meriam’s sentence.’
Daniel, a 27-year-old biochemist who lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, also got the chance to hold his 20-month-old son Martin, who is being held in the barbaric prison with his mother.
The photo is especially poignant as Meriam will never see her beautiful daughter grow up. She is set to hang sometime in the next two years as the authorities said she will be executed when she has finished weaning Maya.
And before the birth, Meriam made the defiant claim that she would rather die than give up her faith.
In a heart-wrenching conversation with her husband during a rare prison visit, Meriam told him: ‘If they want to execute me then they should go ahead and do it because I’m not going to change my faith.’
An Islamic Sharia judge said she could be spared the death penalty if she publicly renounced her faith and becomes a Muslim once more.
Meriam insists she has always been a Christian and told her husband she could not ‘pretend to be a Muslim’ just to spare her life.
She told him: ‘I refuse to change. I am not giving up Christianity just so that I can live.
‘I know I could stay alive by becoming a Muslim and I would be able to look after our family, but I need to be true to myself.’
Daniel revealed his wife’s defiant stance during an exclusive interview with MailOnline at his modest home in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
Sitting beneath glamorous photographs of his wife taken at their wedding in December 2011, he said: ‘My wife is very, very strong. She is stronger than me.
‘When they sentenced her to death I broke down and tears were streaming down my eyes. Our lawyers were passing me tissues. But she stayed strong.
‘She did not flinch when she was sentenced. It was amazing to see, particularly because she is the one facing the death penalty.’
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