In fear of her life, ex-Muslim teen seeks protection in Florida

In fear of her life, ex-Muslim teen seeks protection in Florida

Islam expert says ‘honor killing’ her fate if returned home

By JAMES A. SMITH SR.
Executive Editor
Published: August 28, 2009
Article originally taken from: http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/10713.article

ORLANDO (FBW) – Is it really possible the life of a teen-ager in America could be at risk because she rejected her parent’s Islamic faith to become a Christian?

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That’s the fear of Rifqa Bary, a 17-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, who ran away from home earlier this month to Florida. At least for now, the State of Florida believes there’s enough evidence of possible danger that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) has taken emergency protective custody of the girl.

Bary’s fear of death for converting to Christianity is an all-too common reality for ex-Muslims across the world, according to a former Muslim who grew up in the Columbus mosque closely connected with the Bary family’s mosque.

“I’m Rifqa Bary and I’ve been a Christian for four years. I just want to say that I love my parents. … Yet I’m so in fear for my life because of the past abuse that I’ve encountered,” said the Ohio teen Aug. 21 at a juvenile court hearing in Orlando to consider her request for emergency protective custody.

Bary’s parents have disputed Rifqa’s abuse claims, including her fear that her life is at risk for converting to Christianity.

Her father, Mohamed Bary, a jeweler, asserts his daughter was brainwashed by the Orlando pastor to whom Rifqa fled.

Bary told Orlando’s WESH 2 News, “This is cult group who kidnapped my daughter and took her away,” according to World Net Daily.

In an Aug. 18 petition, Stemberger – the Orlando attorney and well-known pro-family activist who is representing Rifqa – asserted the girl has been beaten by her father and brother and sexually assaulted by an uncle in Sri Lanka.

“The child is in imminent threat of harm not only from her parents but also from the extreme radical Muslim community in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio” because of her Christian conversion, the petition argues.

The petition contends Rifqa’s father threatened to strike her with her laptop computer and said, “If you have this Jesus in your heart, you’re dead to me. You are not my daughter. I will kill you.”

According to Ergun Mehmet Caner, the threat to Rifqa for her rejection of Islam and conversion to Christianity is real. “There’s no question,” Caner said in an Aug. 27 interview with the Witness.

Caner, who converted to Christianity as a 16-year-old in Columbus, Ohio, grew-up in the mosque, the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio, out of which the Bary family mosque, Noor Islamic Cultural Center, was started and remains connected.

Now a Baptist minister and president of Liberty Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va., Caner is a well-known apologist for the Christian faith – activity for which a fatwa, an Islamic religious ruling calling for his death, was issued last year “that put us on the road for a while.”

Because of his outspoken repudiation of Islam and defense of Christianity, Caner said he has to take special security precautions.

Caner and his two brothers, who became Christians within 14 months of his conversion, were disowned by their father, who was the architect of their Columbus mosque.

Rather than sending his sons back to their home country of Turkey, the decision of the eldest Caner to disown his children “was an act of mercy,” Caner told the Witness. Caner said his father died in 1999 as a Muslim, while his mother is now a Christian.

“When someone says, ‘Oh, it’s horrible what happened to you.’ No, what my father did was merciful,” Caner explained, noting his fate could have been much worse.

The risk of an “honor killing” – an obligation under Islamic law for those who reject Islam – is routine in Muslim nations.

According to World Net Daily, “The United Nations tabulates about 5,000 such ‘honor killings’ annually around the world, and they have been documented even in the United States.”

“This happens every sign day,” Caner said, pointing to organizations like Voice of the Martyrs and International Christian Concern that report on Christian persecution.

“How tragic is it that the murder of someone solely for their conversion would be considered routine? But this is 1,300 years of Islamic history,” Caner said.

Caner said the conversion of a female – especially a minor – is particularly offensive under Islam because the “daughter carries the honor in the family.”

He noted under Sharia law, four witnesses are required to validate a rape claim. “Otherwise, she is put to death because she brought dishonor to the family.”

Caner compared the fate of returning Rifqa to her Columbus home to that of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of an international controversy in 2000 who was ultimately returned to his home country after a failed attempt to seek asylum in the U.S. on his behalf by Miami relatives.

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