A planned Christian film about the life of Meriam Ibrahim is being overshadowed by opposition to the film from Meriam and her family, Christian Today has learned.
In a case that attracted massive attention worldwide, Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes and death by hanging in Sudan in May 2014. Though she was brought up as a Christian, she was found guilty of converting from Islam and was also accused of adultery after marrying a Christian man – a union deemed invalid under Sharia law.
Meriam was forced to give birth to her daughter, Maya, in chains while in Khartoum prison and – despite terrible treatment – refused to renounce her religious faith. She was later released following international outcry and has moved to the US where she lives with her husband Daniel Wani and two children.
However, a film about her experiences is being made without her endorsement and against her wishes.
Fundraising for 'I am a Christian' – the title of which is taken from her words when she was asked to deny her faith – has begun on the IndieGoGo website. The production company Christian Lives Matter has announced that it wants to raise $500,000 and has lined up Rachel Hendrix, who starred in the pro-life Christian film October Baby, Ben Davies, star of Courageous, actress and Fox News contributor Stacey Dash and Kevin Sorbo, star of God's Not Dead, to take part.
Meriam's husband, Daniel, told Christian Today that they had been contacted last year by the film's promoters but had rejected their approach because they had accepted another from a different film company. Christian Lives Matter, the company behind 'I am a Christian' was "taking advantage of them", he said.
Wani said that the family had struggled since Meriam and the two children had joined him in the US but were now in better circumstances.
Meriam told Christian Today that knowing the film was being made without their permission made her feel like she did when she was sentenced to death in Sudan. She said she thought that they would be on her side because they are Christians, but feels that the film-makers are "killing me and killing my dream".
Meriam added that her faith "streams from [her] heart" and said, "I am Christian for ever".
Christian Lives Matter intends to donate 10 per cent of the gross profits from the film to Meriam and Daniel and another 40 per cent to "Judeo/Christian charities working to fight religious persecution worldwide". Despite the low budget for the film, they point to other Christian-based films made on a small budget which did well at the box office, including Fireproof, made for $500,000 and which took $33 million, and God's Not Dead, making $63 million from an investment of only $2 million.
In a video appeal for funds, God's Not Dead star Kevin Sorbo says that "If Hollywood has the final say, Meriam's story will be made completely PC. Christianity will be watered down."
Christian Lives Matter spokesman Brian Harrington told Christian Today that the company was hoping to speak to the couple, whose consent is not legally required. "We definitely want to make this film, it's an awesome story and we'd love to have Meriam and Daniel behind us," he said.