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Murdered for Practicing Christianity?

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Or is this rebelling teen being coerced into using the American legal system?

Rifqa Bary
Dr. Wendy Walsh: The court video of testimony from 17-year-old Rifqa Bary shows a young girl tearful and fearful that a Florida judge will return her to her Ohio parents, whom she says will kill her in a Muslim "honor" killing.

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.

For more stories on Rifqa Bary from the St. Petersburg Times, see also:

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?


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12 comments so far | Post a comment now
Lawrence August 27, 2009, 7:03 AM

As a devoted Christian, I see many layers of complexity to this tragic story. First of all, it is a tragedy because there was almost certainly a level of distrust between the teen and her parents already, or her conversion to Christianity would not have been “secret” in the first place; secondly, because there are those who, in the guise of Christian pastors, are willing to attempt to step between a child and her parents, even though the Ten Commandments clearly remind us to honor our father and mother. The fact that the young lady is a cheerleader and honors student would seem to give some indication that her parents are not oppressively anti-western, as does the fact that they relocated the entire family to a new country to seek medical attention for their daughter. On the other hand, in order for the girl to have such fears, there must be some issues (whether familial or personal) that need to be identified and addressed. Frankly it seems shocking to me that any court would stand in the way of a child being reunited with her parents unless there was clear evidence of abuse and of an imminent threat, but from the story it does not appear that is the case. On the other hand, the court would do well to protect the child from what may very well be a cult environment preaching hate in the name of religiosity, rather than preaching true Christianity.

Dani August 27, 2009, 10:52 AM

She’s 17. Let her stay in foster care until she turns 18 and then she can do what she wants. She really needs to fully understand the religions she is choosing to leave and practice. Religion is not just faith and prayer but heritage and precedent for how to live your life. I am catholic, but I can appreciate several other religions as well. They are in America, land of the free, so when she is 18 she can be free to do what she wants, for now let her stay with a foster family and get some counseling.

williameaton August 27, 2009, 2:27 PM

Islam allows and even encourages the killing of apostates (those who leave Islam). The Quran is really explicit on what the punishment should be or at least it is debatable, but the Hadith makes it very clear. The hadith are oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Hadith collections are regarded by all traditional schools of jurisprudence as important tools for determining the Muslim way of life, the sunnah. For example: Hadith, Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 83, Number 17: Narrated ‘Abdullah: Allah’s Apostle said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims.” There are many others like this one. This is not like Christianity, Judaism, or other religions, because Islam is more than a faith, but a way of life, a government, a law system. These teachings countermand secular laws to a faithful Muslim. There is no room for separation between the faith and the law (government) in Islam. This is the source of the confusion many non-Muslims have who are unfamiliar with Islam.

This is not my opinion either: 1) All four major schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence support the killing of apostates. 2) According to a Pew poll put out on August 13th, 2009, 78% of Pakistani Muslims think apostates should or must be killed. So it is clear the majority at least in Muslim Pakistan take these commands in a serious manner. I would assume if other polls asked the same question in other Muslim communities around the world they would get majorities or at least very large minorities who accept that apostates should be killed. 3) There have been numerous examples of Islamic “honor killings” in Europe, America, and Canada. We tend to call it “honor killing”, but the victims were killed because they were straying from the faith or outright apostates. The Said sisters, who were killed in Texas by their Muslim father, lost their lives because they were dating Christian boys, and thus straying from the faith.

There are several red flags in relation to the father that are being ignored by the main stream press. For example the father closed his profitable jewelry business, and business accounts, on July 29th 2009, after his daughter went missing. Why would he do that? Was he planning on fleeing? Also the mother was using two different names, one as an employee of the father and his business and another name as the owner of her own business that makes bridal clothing. The father was also associated with the Noor Islamic center in Columbus, OH. This is a notoriously Islamic supremacist operation, known for its scholars preaching things like the Protocols of Zion, and other crazed blood libels. It is also associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.


So it is clear Rifqa Bary has much to fear. It is clear from the teachings of Islam that apostates should be killed, it clear that a large segment of the Muslim population, if not an outright majority think the same, even if they do not admit it in the open, and it is clear that the father has some rather large red flags that support her story and cast doubt on his credibility. It is also clear that the Columbus Muslim community is rather traditionalized (or radicalized depending on how you like to see this). It would be helpful if Time magazine, and other mainstream media types, would spend more time learning about Islam, and its views of apostasy. They need to learn more about the religion she left, and not the one she converted to, and why she is in danger. If she gets killed, or violence occurs the blood will be on the hands of those who advocated sending her back, not to mention the abject violation of her right to practice her faith in freedom in America. People keep evoking the ghost of Elian Gonzalez, well I have another ghost that you might have read about….Dred Scott.

Is she not free?

williameaton August 27, 2009, 2:33 PM

Continued from above…it was cut off…

There are several red flags in relation to the father that are being ignored by the main stream press. For example the father closed his profitable jewelry business, and business accounts, on July 29th 2009, after his daughter went missing. Why would he do that? Was he planning on fleeing? Also the mother was using two different names, one as an employee of the father and his business and another name as the owner of her own business that makes bridal clothing. The father was also associated with the Noor Islamic center in Columbus, OH. This is a notoriously Islamic supremacist operation, known for its scholars preaching things like the Protocols of Zion, and other crazed blood libels. It is also associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.


So it is clear Rifqa Bary has much to fear. It is clear from the teachings of Islam that apostates should be killed, it clear that a large segment of the Muslim population, if not an outright majority think the same, even if they do not admit it in the open, and it is clear that the father has some rather large red flags that support her story and cast doubt on his credibility. It is also clear that the Columbus Muslim community is rather traditionalized (or radicalized depending on how you like to see this). It would be helpful if Time magazine, and other mainstream media types, would spend more time learning about Islam, and its views of apostasy. They need to learn more about the religion she left, and not the one she converted to, and why she is in danger. If she gets killed, or violence occurs the blood will be on the hands of those who advocated sending her back, not to mention the abject violation of her right to practice her faith in freedom in America. People keep evoking the ghost of Elian Gonzalez, well I have another ghost that you might have read about….Dred Scott.

Is she not free?


GI Joe August 27, 2009, 2:53 PM

This girl needs to go back to her family and live whatever life she wants to live as a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Voodoo Practinionor, Athiest, whatever…

The parents are not going to harm her just because the V for Vendetta Fundamentalist Christian rejects want to spread their end of days agenda.

They are trying to bring the end of days themselves, which makes them not Christians, but Satanic themselves!

Only Satan acts like Pastor Lorenz. And yes you can call me a Bible Thumper, but I am a real one.

ProPalin August 27, 2009, 3:07 PM

Some good comments posted…thank, everyone.
For “the family honor” these people will do anything and that means killing, if need be. If a son or daughter goes astray, dates and especially marries outside their faith, they are in big big trouble. The only way to cleanse this “dishonor” is to kill the son or daughter who has “shamed” them. Sad. This girl is going to be an adult soon and can do as she pleases.

Kris August 27, 2009, 4:54 PM

Having been in the military and having been to Kuwait/Iraq. I will say most Muslims not all, but most hate anything Christian or westernized. I have seen first hand this hate and distrust. Don’t be fooled simply becauase they live in America that the are modernized or westernized for that matter. Her parents may say they will not harm her, but what of the Imums of the Islam Mosque they attend, you do have to realize that they can and will trun her over to the church who will enact the honor killing be cautious of something that is to good to be true. And in this case they not harming her and accepting her faith conversion is to good to be true.

stochasticity August 27, 2009, 8:52 PM

Here’s a thought experiment:

Imagine the uproar if it had been a fundamentalist Islamic Mullah that had lured an impressionable teenage Christian girl across state lines using the internet.

ad2k August 27, 2009, 8:56 PM

Commenting on ‘If you have this Jesus in your heart…”.

In the UK, some apostates from Islam, such as ‘Hannah Shah’ (author of the book ‘The Imam’s Daughter’ - her story is very similar to that of this girl Rifqa, except that she was smarter about making her run for freedom) together with her English Christian husband, and others, actually do have an underground organisation that assists bona fide apostates to escape their murder-minded families, to find Secure Undisclosed Locations in which to live, and to find ways of meeting and supporting one another. An Underground Church in modern Britain (and I would suspect that they would also provide help to bona fide apostates who had simply left Islam but hadn’t yet chosen, or did not want to choose, an alternative faith). Such a network, it seems, does not yet exist in the USA. Or if it does, it needs to find some way of discreetly making itself known to people like this girl.

jamie August 28, 2009, 1:22 PM

Sounds like she’s been brainwashed by some Evangelical Christian. Seriously - “secretly” converting? Sounds pretty fishy to me.

maeby August 28, 2009, 6:33 PM

sounds like she got brainwashed from both sides.

RachelAZ September 1, 2009, 3:34 AM

Sorry but I don’t think a father who allows his daughter to be a cheerleader and show that much skin, along with probably dance sexy, would believe in modern day honor killings. The story just does NOT add up.


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