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 ...

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 ...

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 ...
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