Fathima Rifqa Bary controversy: Wikis


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Related events since 2001

Fathima Rifqa Bary born on August 10, 1992[1] is an American of Sri Lankan descent who drew international attention in 2009 when, aged 16, she ran away from home saying that her Muslim parents are going to kill her for becoming a Christian.[2] A law enforcement investigation in Ohio and Florida found no credible evidence that her life was in danger.[2][3][4]



Fathima Rifqa Bary is the daughter of Mohamed and Aysha Bary, Muslim immigrants from Sri Lanka. She grew up in Columbus, Ohio with her older brother Rilvan and her little brother Rajaa.[5] Rifqa's attorney John Stemberger claims the Bary family are members of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center near Columbus, Ohio.[5] In an official statement, NICC denies they are familiar with Rifqa or her family and states that their records show Rifqa attended their Sunday School only three times in 2007. Rifqa became a Christian in 2005 when she was 13. Rifqa Bary was secretly baptized without consent of her parents near her house. Rifqa eventually became a member of the Columbus Korean United Methodist Church. [6]

Rifqa ran away from home in July 2009 to the home of a Christian pastor in Florida whose wife she had met on Facebook after she was told her parents would kill her for converting to Christianity..[7] She had been with Reverend Blake Lorenz and his wife Mrs. Beverly Lorenz for three weeks[citation needed] before they contacted child welfare authorities.[7] Blake and Beverly Lorenz could face criminal charges for not contacting the authorities within 24 hours as required by Florida law.[8] Her case drew attention when she appeared on television and declared that her father said "he would kill me or send me back to Sri Lanka," describing herself as the intended victim of an honor killing.[7] Brian Michael Williams, an Ohio State University student and aspiring pastor who became a mentor and friend of Rifqa, drove her to a bus station where a ticket was purchased under an assumed name for her bus ride to Orlando.[9]

Her parents say they have never threatened to harm her.[10] Her father, a jeweler, told a reporter that "Honestly, we didn't know why she left." And that as to the death threat described by his daughter, "She doesn't know what she's talking about," and "I want her to come back home. I love my daughter whether she's Christian or anything else. I want my daughter back."[11]

Law enforcement investigations

Bary was taken into custody by Florida child welfare authorities while an investigation proceeded. On September 14, 2009 a Florida court ruled that it found no credible evidence that Bary's life or well-being had been threatened by her family.[2][3][4] The Florida Department of Law Enforcement report states with respect to the allegations of physical and verbal abuse that they found no credible evidence of such abuse.[2] In the report Mr. Bary states that he did pick up Rifqa's laptop to throw it but did not throw it due to the cost of the laptop.[2] For these items they relied on the authorities in Ohio.[2] The FDLE report also listed several statements by Rifqa Bary which were not supported by evidence.[2] Rifqa Bary stated to them that her father did not know about the true nature of her cheerleading, but the FDLE report states that pictures of her in uniform were prominently displayed in the Bary home. Furthermore Mr. Bary gave permission when Mrs. Bary would not.[2] Rifqa Bary stated that a teacher offered her refuge due to the abuse she suffered. The FDLE report states that the teacher was unaware of any abuse, and was concerned about parties, with alcohol consumption: purchased with a fake ID, which were thrown by Rilvan Bary when their parents were away.[2] The FDLE report also stated that they did not investigate anyone in the larger Ohio Muslim community.[2] The FDLE report has been criticized by John Guandolo, a former FBI agent writing for the Center for Security Policy who claims that under islamic law apostasy is a capital offense.[2][12] The FDLE responds that "FDLE conducted a thorough investigation of this situation."[2] The FDLE found no credible evidence of any threat to Rifqa's life from her parents.[2] On October 13, Orange County Judge Daniel P. Dawson ruled that he would return Bary to Ohio pending immigration status settlement.[11] Emergency custody continues in Ohio.[13] Two items that Rifqa's parents didn't release to the Police are her Diary and her Journal.[citation needed]

Return to Ohio

On October 27, 2009 Rifqa Bary was returned to Ohio and temporarily placed in the custody of Franklin County Children Services.[14] The public agency will be monitoring her internet and phone use.[15]

Margaret Shirk filed a case-management plan December 1, 2009 stating that Rifqa and her family needed to have face-to-face talks about their understanding of Christianity and Islam as one step toward reunification.[1] Franklin County Children Services hopes to reunite the family before August 10, 2010, when Rifqa turns 18.[1]

On December 22, 2009, a magistrate of the Franklin county juvenile court denied the parents' request for forced mediation and set the date for the dependency hearing for the end of January.[16][17] Rifqa's dependency trial was cancelled on January 19, 2010 when Rifqa became a depended of Ohio in exchange for admiting that she broke the rules when she ran away.[citation needed] On January 29, 2010 once it was learned that Rifqa would be allowed to contact Reverend Lorenz and Mrs. Lorenz Mr. and Mrs. Bary requested to back out of the deal at the strict advisement of their lawyer.[citation needed] On March 2, 2010 Judge Elizabeth Gill denied their request.[18]

Public debate

The situation drew international attention[11] and became a cause célèbre[7] and point of "hostility between some Christians and Muslims".[19] Ms. Bary's case has become a focal point in a culture clash between Evangelical Christian Americans and Muslim Americans.

Imam Muhammad Musri of the Islamic Society of Central Florida claimed that the controversy was caused "by far-right religious groups" portraying Islam and Muslims as extreme fundamentalists who might kill a child.[19] Harry Coverston, a professor of religion, theorized that some individuals must have an enemy.[19] Dr. Hany Saqr of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center stated that paranoid and manipulative "Islamophobes" were pushing the story.[20]


  1. ^ a b c Welsh-Huggins, Andrew (December 1, 2009). "Caseworker: Runaway, parents must talk religion". Associated Press. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hJLMa2rROo9H7Cx3ycwhj5uPXOMwD9CALGF00. Retrieved October 29, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Investigative Summary OR-73-1741". Florida Department of Law Enforcement. http://media.myfoxorlando.com/documents/FDLE_RifqaBary.pdf. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Florida Investigation Finds No Credible Threat to Teen Christian Convert". Fox News Channel. September 15, 2009. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,550442,00.html. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Report: No credible threats against teen". United Press International. September 15, 2009. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/09/15/Report-No-credible-threats-against-teen/UPI-56481253028798/. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Miller, Joshua Rhett (August 31, 2009). "Attorney Targets Alleged Terror Ties in Case of Runaway Girl". Fox News Channel. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,545020,00.html. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  6. ^ Noor Islamic Cultural Center (September 4, 2009). "Statement from Noor Islamic Cultural Center". Press release. http://www.noorohio.org/Detail.aspx?ID=786cd407-f0b3-49f7-9aad-caf99ceae7ed. Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c d Padgett, Tim (August 24, 2009). "A Florida Culture-War Circus Over Rifqa Bary". Time. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1918228,00.html. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  8. ^ Edwards, Amy L. (December 23, 2009). "Pastors in Rifqa Bary case knew they broke law, ex-church official says". Orlando Sentinel. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-rifqa-orlando-preachers-20091223,0,1612005.story. Retrieved December 24, 2009. 
  9. ^ Kruse, Michael (October 11, 2009). "The life Rifqa Bary ran away from". St. Petersburg Times. http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/the-life-rifqa-bary-ran-away-from/1042759. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  10. ^ Schneider, Mike (August 21, 2009). "Runaway convert to stay in Fla. pending hearing". Associated Press. http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9A7MDMO0. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  11. ^ a b c Edwards, Amy L.; Stutzman, Rene (August 21, 2009). "Runaway teen convert: Judge may decide next chapter for Rifqa Bary,17-year-old convert". Orlando Sentinel. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orl-global-revoluation-church-teen-convert-082109,0,7548265.story. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  12. ^ Jacim, Tracy (September 18, 2009). "Couple who sheltered Rifqa Bary speak". WOFL. http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/faith_news/091709_Couple_who_sheltered_Rifqq_Bary_speak. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  13. ^ Couwels, John (October 14, 2009). "Runaway teen Christian convert must return to Ohio, judge rules". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/10/14/florida.muslim.convert/. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Runaway teen Christian convert returned to Ohio". CNN. October 27, 2009. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/US/10/27/muslim.convert/. Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  15. ^ Heagney, Meredith (October 28, 2009). "Agency to watch runaway teen's Internet, cell use". The Columbus Dispatch. http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/10/28/rifqa27.ART_ART_10-28-09_B4_QPFGG23.html. Retrieved October 29, 2009. 
  16. ^ Coueignoux, Stephanie (December 23, 2009). "Will Religious Runaway Return To Her Parents?". Central Florida News 13. http://www.cfnews13.com/News/Local/2009/12/22/will_religious_runaway_return_to_parents.html. Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  17. ^ Heagney, Meredith (December 23, 2009). "Ruling: Runaway teen doesn't have to talk to family". The Columbus Dispatch. http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/12/23/rifqa22.ART_ART_12-23-09_B1_UDG3A4R.html. Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  18. ^ Heagney, Meredith (March 3, 2010). "Rifqa's judge orders counseling". The Columbus Dispatch. http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/03/03/rifqas-judge-orders-counseling.html. Retrieved March 11, 2010. 
  19. ^ a b c Heagney, Meredith (September 14, 2009). "Amid a holy war: National debate over a Columbus teen's faith exposes hostility between some Christians and Muslims". The Columbus Dispatch. http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/09/14/rifqa_dispute.ART_ART_09-14-09_A1_5DF245R.html. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 
  20. ^ Arman, Abukar (September 2009). "Institutional Islamophobia and the politics of a minor's choice". Yemen Times 16 (1294). http://yementimes.com/article.shtml?i=1294&p=opinion&a=2. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 

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