Or is this rebelling teen being coerced into using the American legal system?
The backstory is this: The family, who practices the Muslim faith, immigrated to America from Sri Lanka in 2000 when their then 8-year-old daughter incurred an eye injury. They had the means to bring their daughter halfway around the world for expensive eye surgery to restore her vision. Now she says her views could make them murder her.
A few years ago, Rifqa, an honor student and cheerleader, secretly converted to Christianity. Then, on July 19th, she disappeared in Ohio. She took a bus to Florida, and stayed for nearly three weeks in the Orlando home of evangelical pastor Blake Lorenz from the Global Revolution Church, whom she met through a Facebook prayer group. That pastor and his wife harbored the runaway minor for two-and-a-half weeks without reporting it, and then decided to put her on TV on August 10.
The relieved parents flew to Florida, but the teen had already been assigned to a foster family there. Both her parents openly stated that they are modern people, and that they would allow their daughter to practice Christianity in their home. However, a Florida judge would not let the trial be moved to Ohio, even though the parents said they would consent to her being in a foster home closer to their home in Ohio.
According to Michael Kruse, a reporter with the St. Petersburg Times who has been following the case extensively, at last week's hearing Rifqa's mother tearfully said, "I love my daughter," adding, "I need my daughter back."
Her father, a jeweler, reiterated what he's said for the last couple of weeks: "She's free to come and practice whatever religion she likes."
Rifqa also spoke at the hearing. "I just want to say I love my family, I love them so much," she said, "but I'm still in fear for my life."
During the hearing, Aysha Bary kept looking over at her daughter, again and again, hoping to make eye contact. But the girl seldom looked up, keeping her head down, reading her Bible.
There are concerns that Rifqa has been influenced by the Lorenz family and those at the evangelical Global Revolution Church to make the "honor killing" accusations, and, as Time magazine reports, she may have been lured to Orlando via the Internet. Earlier this month, Lorenz made a statement to reporters outlining his belief that this is part of Christianity's holy struggle against Islam: "These are the last days, these are the end times," he said, "and this conflict between Islam and Christianity is going to grow greater. This conflict between good and evil is going to grow greater."Rifqa can have supervised visits, the judge decided. However, the girl wanted to visit with only her brothers, and not with her parents. That won't happen until mediation. Another court date is tentatively set for September 3.
Ohio runaway says she fears for life after converting to Christianity
• Conservative activist John Stemberger alleges Muslim family abused runaway Christian daughter
• Runaway teen will stay in Florida as officials investigate abuse allegations
• Did pastors break law by taking in runaway Christian teen?
|Dr. Wendy Walsh holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and her area of interest is Attachment Theory, a psychological, evolutionary and ethological theory that provides a descriptive and explanatory framework for understanding interpersonal relationships between human beings. As a psychological assistant registered with the California Board of Psychology, Dr. Walsh has treated individuals, couples and families for a variety of mental health concerns including personality disorders, anger management, eating and substance disorders, and depression.|