Rifqa Bary rejects chemo, family reunion

JISHOU, HUNAN — The Rifqa Bary saga continues, but I fear there will be a tragic ending to an already tragic story. Bary, the Christian convert teen who ran away from home last year alleging her Muslim parents would kill her, apparently is rejecting chemotherapy for her uterine cancer, claiming she was cured by a faith healer. She is also rejecting a reunion with her family, whom law enforcement officials say pose no threat to her safety. The teenager became a poster child for the anti-Muslim and/or born-again religious crowd after she ran away from her Columbus home to Orlando, Florida, claiming her parents would kill her because of her conversion to Christianity three years before she fled. She eventually ended up in foster care back in Ohio. In May, the 17-year-old Sri Lankan native was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and has since had three operations. According to news reports, documents filed by her parents in Franklin County Court state that Bary is refusing chemotherapy because she claims she was healed at an event in Youngstown last month. She was allegedly taken there without her parents’ consent, and her parents want the court to force Bary to undergo chemotherapy if ...

Christian runaway Rifqa Bary treated for uterine cancer

JISHOU, HUNAN — Fathima Rifqa Bary, 17, who made headlines several months ago after she ran away from her Muslim parents claiming they would kill her as an Islamic apostate, is being treated for uterine cancer. The Sri Lankan-born high school graduate has had two operations already, and awaits a third. Bary ran away to Florida in July with the help of a Christian pastor who had befriended her. Once arriving in Orlando, the girl, who says she converted to Christianity at 13, lived with married pastors Blake and Beverly Lorenz for nearly two weeks before the Lorenzes told child welfare officials where Bary was. In interviews, Bary claimed that her parents were upset with her conversion and that she was afraid that her father would kill her if she returned home. Law enforcement officials from Florida and Ohio, however, reported there was no credible threat to her safety. Nevertheless, Bary has lived with foster parents in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, after her court-ordered return to Ohio in October. She turns 18 in August, at which point she will be able to leave foster care. Her conversion and flight to Florida have become a rallying point for anti-Islamic Christian ...

The Rifqa Bary saga ends with a whimper

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — Here’s the short version. Fathima Rifqa Bary, the teenaged Muslim-to-Christian-convert runaway, does not have to rejoin her parents in Columbus, Ohio. She and her folks agreed that she will stay in foster care until she turns 18 in August. Bary became a minor celebrity several months ago when she ran away from her parents, saying she feared she would be put to death for being an “apostate,” someone who had abandoned Islam. Aided by Christian church leaders in Columbus, she boarded a Greyhound bus for Orlando, Florida, to stay secretly with husband-and-wife pastors, Blake and Beverly Lorenz, for a week or so. Once her whereabouts became known, Bary entered the world of child protection services in first Florida, then Ohio, and became a poster child for religious nutjobs building up anti-Islam fervor. In the aftermath, the Lorenzes have lost their jobs. (Their church board took issue with the Lorenzes breaking the law by harboring a runaway child without notifying the proper authorities.) Her parents have lost their privacy and a great deal of their reputation. (Law enforcement investigations found the parents posed no threat to their daughter’s safety, but Bary’s anti-Islam fans still trumpet that the girl’s ...

Barys have to discuss differences, but Rifqa won’t meet parents

JISHOU, HUNAN — Child welfare workers in Ohio have recommended that teenage religious runaway Fathima Rifqa Bary and her parents sit down and talk about their religious differences. Trouble is, the girl does not want to see her parents ever again. Rifqa fears her parents will have her killed for converting from Islam to Christianity. Her parents say they will do no such thing. Here is the Associated Press story on this latest chapter in the Bary family drama. There’s some mostly rational discussion at the Volokh Conspiracy. And some mostly unhinged ranting at Free Republic.

Poignant story of one unfortunate family’s Thanksgiving 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — The Bary family of Columbus, Ohio, had one place setting empty last Thursday, because religious hysteria and rightwing busybodies have interfered with return of their runaway daughter to their care. That’s the tale told by Shayan Elahi, the attorney for Fathima Rifqa Bary’s father, in today’s Orlando Sentinel. Rifqa Bary ran away from her home at age 16, assisted by Christian pastors and Facebook friends who enabled her to take a bus to Orlando, Florida, where she stayed with another Christian pastor and his wife for nearly two weeks before anyone notified child welfare authorities — or her parents — of her location. Fueled by unfounded allegations that Rifqa fled her home to avoid an “honor killing,” a complete “Save Rifqa Bary” movement has blossomed from whole cloth, led by a combination of Christian activists, Muslim-haters, and otherwise well-meaning folk who think they are saving a teenage girl from certain execution. In any other situation, had a teenager been lured away from her home by friends she met on Facebook or while unescorted by her family, assisted in her flight to a different state and housed (illegally) for two weeks, her return home would have been swift ...

Religious rabble-rousers, part 2 1

[UPDATE 20/11/09: I ended up in my own Google news alert on Rifqa Bary. Not sure what to think …] JISHOU, HUNAN — I find the whole Rifqa Bary thing fascinating, if only because it highlights the paranoia and/or religious nuttery of some segments of the American populace. I have a Google news alert set up for “rifqa bary,” so I get a daily digest of wingnuttiness. (Frankly, I prefer Nutella, though Nussa is pretty damn good, too.) Well, it turns out that one of the speakers at the Rally for Rifqa in Columbus (capital of the Islamic Republic of Ohio) was another Muslim-turned-Christian, Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-born author of anti-Muslim, pro-Israel books and founder of Former Muslims United. Darwish popped up in my Google news alert because of that brief association with Rally for Rifqa. The link was to a conservative blog called, “Ruthfully Yours: The Right News, Front and Center.” Darwish was scheduled to speak at both Columbia and Princeton Universities, but both invitations were canceled at the last moment. Apparently, the students who had invited Darwish got wind of her anti-Muslim rhetoric a little late in the game, and changed their minds. The blogger, Ruth King — ...

Ohio’s latest manufactroversy stumbles onward 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — You would think Fathima Rifqa Bary, 17, was some kind of political prisoner, or a modern day Joan of Arc, instead of a runaway in foster care. People held signs that said “Free Rifqa” and “Sharia sucks. Free Rifqa Bari. (sic)” There was a large poster that showed violence done to Muslims who have converted to Christianity, as Bary said she did four years ago. People prayed, and people spoke, and people made a controversy where none exists. Hence, a manufactroversy. How many people? Well, one of the organizers demagogues, Pamela Geller, says “hundreds.” The Columbus Dispatch says “about 120.” Bary ran away from her Columbus home back in September. She and her family are Muslims from Sri Lanka, and according to newspaper accounts, her parents were perfectly OK with her reading the Bible, hanging out with Christian kids, and being a cheerleader. But her many “supporters” — most of whom are fervent Christians — fervently believe her family, or the middle-of-the-road mosque to which they belong, will put the girl to death if she is sent back to her family. Law enforcement officers discount that likelihood, but since when do True Believers™ believe John Law? The ...

Wingnuts rally for Rifqa 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — The Rifqa Bary saga just gets weirder and weirder. Now that the 17-year-old is back in her home state, her “benefactors” and “supporters” plan to hold a rally during the hearing that will decide whether she will return to her parents’ home. In the reality-based world, a runaway child returning home would be a good thing, if the parents are decent, upstanding members of society, which the Barys appear to be. In the apocalyptic world of the far-far-rightwing, however, Rifqa’s Muslim parents are sure to kill their Christian convert daughter, because, you know, all Muslims do that sort of thing, every day. Pamela Geller and her fellow Muslim-haters have themselves worked up into a froth, accusing the Bary family of every crime known to humanity, merely because the Barys are Muslim … … and because Rifqa, whose own grip on reality seems kind of tenuous, has people convinced that her family will either kill her or arrange for her sudden demise once she returns to that lawless hotbed of Islamic terrorism, Columbus, Ohio. Law enforcement officers and child welfare officials say the likelihood of Rifqa being killed is nil. Her parents are pretty normal sounding, middle-class Americans ...

Religious runaway Rifqa Bary back in Ohio, in foster care 5

JISHOU, HUNAN — The Orlando Sentinel reports that Fathima Rifqa Bary, the Muslim girl turned Christian (pawn), returned to her home state of Ohio, where she is in foster care pending family court proceedings. Bary, 17, fled her Columbus home last summer with the assistance of conservative Christians, who bought her a bus ticket to Orlando, where she lived for two weeks with Christian crusaders Blake and Beverly Lorenz. Several days later, the Lorenzes reported Bary’s arrival to Florida’s child protection services. The immigrant girl from Sri Lanka has become a poster child for those Christians who believe the world is heading for a showdown between the forces of good (Christians) and the forces of evil (Muslims). Feeding on apparently false accusations that Bary’s parents will kill her for leaving her faith, rabid Christians have flocked to her cause like bears to honey. An Ohio judge has wisely restricted the impressionable girl’s access to the Internet and her cell phone, which has led one anti-Islam nutjob to accuse the Ohio judge of enforcing Muslim sharia law. Last month, while under foster care in Florida, Bary appeared on a telephone conference call prayer meeting, during which she manically prayed to Jesus, ...

Teenage convert Rifqa Bary to return to Ohio 1

[UPDATE 10/16/09: For an excellent narrative of Rifqa Bary’s life before, during and after her running away, check this feature at tampabay.com. It’s the best — and least biased — account of her saga I’ve seen.] JISHOU, HUNAN — Rifqa Bary, the Muslim teen who converted to Christianity and fled to Florida (with help), will be sent back to temporary foster care in her home state of Ohio, a Florida family court judge ruled Tuesday. Bary, 17, ran away from home at age 16, saying she feared her parents would kill her for converting. Christian ministers helped her take a Greyhound to Orlando, Florida, where she lived with a pastor and his wife for two weeks before they finally reported the situation to local authorities and the girls’ parents. Law enforcement officers investigating the Bary family found no indication Bary’s life was in danger, and the Florida judge assigned to her case ruled that Ohio’s child protection office is more suitable to decide her case. Once she arrives in Ohio, Bary will be placed in temporary custody with the Franklin County Children’s Service department. Bary made headlines recently after she participated in a conference call Christian prayer session preceding the ...

More about Rifqa Bary’s surprise appearance

JISHOU, HUNAN — I was too tired last night to fill in some of the details about Rifqa Bary, the runaway Muslim teenager from Ohio now living in Florida. It’s morning now, and I have some more interesting background on that conference call. According to Right Wing Watch, the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a Christian group, organized the conference call to counter the Muslim prayer rally in Washington, D.C., last Friday. It seems the task force was quaking in its boots about the possibility of 50,000 Muslims gathering near the Capitol Building. (Actually, only about 3,000 showed up. They had to put up with Christian hecklers. Welcome to America.) Part of their fears stems from their mistaken impression that President Barack Obama is secretly Muslim, and his friendly and conciliatory gestures to the world’s Muslims signal a Muslim takeover of the USA. (Incidentally, in case you missed it, the new America will also be simultaneously Marxist, communist, socialist and fascist, as well as an Islamic state. Just so we’re clear.) From OneNewsNow.com, a wingnut website: Associated Press says Christian leaders in last night's conference call were unconvinced the gathering will be a time for Muslims to pray together, ...

Conference call features Muslim girl manically praying to Jesus 4

JISHOU, HUNAN — I haven’t paid too much attention to the Fathima Rifqa Bary case, but today I found her appearance on a conference call released to the Internet really disturbing. Bary, now 17, ran away from her Columbus, Ohio, home at age 16. She says she had found Jesus, and feared her Muslim family would kill her once they discovered her Christian faith. She ended up in Orlando, Florida, drawn to a church there through a Facebook page. She is in foster care in Florida while the courts decide on what to do with her, since she is still a minor. There are no questions about her safety if she is sent back home, but some questions about the involvement of the Global Revolution Church and its pastor, Blake Lorenz, and his wife, Beverley in Bary’s coming to Orlando. A few days ago, Bary, who is supposedly in state custody, joined in a conference call with Shirley Dobson, wife of James Dobson of Focus on the Family fame, and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. The Dobsons and Perkins are well known conservative Christian figures. The conference call host begins by welcoming his special guest, Bary, who then ...
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