Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Christian Teen Flees Home, Says She Fears Honor Killing by Muslim Father

Rifqa Bary is in child custody - likely she will never have to live with her parents again. See Rifqa in her own words


Rifqa Bary Turned Up in Florida Pastor's Home Weeks After Leaving Ohio Home


An Ohio teenager who secretly converted from Islam to Christianity has fled to Florida because she claims her father threatened her with an "honor killing" for abandoning her Muslim upbringing.

The girl's father has gone to Florida where she sought refuge with a church that she found online. Although the father insists he is not a menace to his daughter, a Florida court has placed the 17-year-old girl in foster care until her claims can be investigated.

Fathima Rifqa Bary, who goes by Rifqa, left home in New Albany, Ohio, last month and hopped on a bus to Orlando to meet with husband and wife pastors Blake and Beverly Lorenz, who she met through a Facebook prayer group for the couple's non-denominational Global Revolution Church.

"When she came to our house, she told us her parents would not report her missing," Blake Lorenz told ABCNews.com.

But they did report their daughter missing and the disappearance reached local news stations and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Lorenz said Rifqa, a native of Sri Lanka, had secretly converted from Islam to Christianity four years ago, but her religion was only discovered recently. Rifqa had snuck out to an area church where, according to Lorenz, she had an "incredible encounter with Jesus."

Lorenz said Rifqa was so moved she posted about it on her Facebook page, writings that would later be seen by her friends from her family's mosque and reported to her father, Mohamed Bary.

"That's when he threatened to kill her for the first time," Lorenz said, adding that he didn't know on how many other occasions that threat had been made.

The battle finally came to a head about a month ago, he said, when her mother found a Christian book in the house while Bary was out of town. Rifqa's mother, he said, threatened to tell her father.

"She did say she was dead to her" if she didn't renounce her Christian faith, Lorenz said.

Rifqa confirmed to ABC's Orlando affiliate WFTV that she believed her father would kill her.

"They have to kill me because I'm a Christian. It's an honor [killing]. If they love me more than God, then they have to kill me," she explained.

Terrifed and fearing she would be the victim of an honor killing, she got on a bus and borrowed a cell phone to contact Beverly Lorenz who she had been communicating with after finding the Lorenzes' church on Facebook.

Keeping Rifqa Safe

The pastors' first move was to call an attorney, several of them, actually.

"No one really knew what to do," Lorenz said, pointing out that Rifqa was not only a minor, but that she had crossed state lines and she wasn't even a U.S. citizen.

Blake Lorenz said Rifqa arrived late at night after a two-day trip. The next morning, the couple called police for advice, but did not tell them Rifqa's name. They did report Rifqa's presence two weeks later, he said, when the couple realized the teen's parents had reported her missing.

Lorenz said he fears Rifqa is "definitely not safe." He pointed to other suspected honor killings in Muslim families, including two Texas sisters who were murdered by their Muslim father Jan. 1, 2008, in what some believed to be religion-fueled rage over the girls' Western ways.

Rifqa's father is now in Florida trying to bring his daughter home. A woman who answered the phone at the Bary home in Ohio said she was a relative, but declined to answer any questions.

Bary told WFTV that there was no truth to his daughter's claims.

Lorenz said he called the abuse hotline Friday. Elizabeth Arenas, a public information officer for the Florida Department of Children and Families, said Rifqa is now in foster care, she said, while Florida officials work with Ohio child services to investigate the teen's claims.

"We just want to be sure she's going to be safe," Arenas said.

Rifqa, her father, Lorenz and Florida DCF officials appeared in court Monday where a judge ordered her to remain in state custody for now. Rifqa is being represented by a lawyer with the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal group that takes on conservative Christian causes.

"When she saw her dad yesterday, she was scared to death," Blake Lorenz said. "She literally believes she's going to be killed."

As for Bary, he said, "I don't want to make him out to be a monster, because I'm sure he's not."

Arenas, who said Bary has been cooperative with Florida DCF officials, said the state had recommended the teen be placed in Ohio state custody. But a judge Monday granted emergency jurisdiction to the Florida DCF, meaning Rifqa will remain in the state's care at least until the next hearing, scheduled for Aug. 21.

Her parents were also given supervised visitation rights, but only at the discretion of their daughter. Arenas said she was unsure if Rifqa had met with her parents since the hearing.

"I don't want to see my father," she told WFTV.

ABC News

4 comments:

Mike Irish said...

folks, it is happening, and it will begin to happen even more. those that believe and live for Christ are being targeted. it will not be long before the United States is like other countries, that a person has to be 18 or older to even go into a church (one where we believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of David, and the Father to Jesus, the Christ).... I would do the same thing as the Pastor and his wife... let me rephrase that...
I WILL DO THE SAME THING, TAKE THEM IN AND PROTECT THEM AS I CAN.comphe

Mike Irish said...

folks, it is happening, and it will begin to happen even more. those that believe and live for Christ are being targeted. it will not be long before the United States is like other countries, that a person has to be 18 or older to even go into a church (one where we believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of David, and the Father to Jesus, the Christ).... I would do the same thing as the Pastor and his wife... let me rephrase that...
I WILL DO THE SAME THING, TAKE THEM IN AND PROTECT THEM AS I CAN.

Cole said...

It is a reality that we are all facing - that of honor killing - and the tip-toeing around Muslim 'sensitivities' - that are a direct affront to our beliefs in freedom and democracy.

A similar thing has already happened in the UK - a 16 year old Muslim girl in foster care - wanted to convert to Christianity - even though her foster mother tried to discourage her - she made up her mind that was what she was going to do - so when the foster carer went along to church she took the girl with her [where I believe she was baptised] - but even though the social worker was notified - when the local authority found out - they stripped the woman of her licence to care for children. Simply because a Muslim girl converted to Christianity - and it was more important not to 'offend' Muslims then to uphold laws respecting freedom of religion.

Its crazy!

Anonymous said...

seriously it is crazy. and my opinion she had no right to do that. she disrespected islam and her family. im muslim and i would NEVER turn my back on my religion,