[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 Muslim Prayer Rally in Washington, D.C., last month. Her appearance sparked questions about Bary’s foster parents, who were supposedly keeping her separate from the Christians who had helped her flee her home.
Her story has become the latest cause celebre among fundamentalist Christians, who have adopted her as a kind of “poster child” for anti-Islam rhetoric and quasi-martyrdom. Meanwhile, her parents, who by all appearances are moderate Muslims from Sri Lanka, say they mean the girl no harm and in fact were perfectly comfortable with her Christian faith months before her departure.
It’s shameful that the same people who claim the family is next to importance to God seem so willing to tear apart a family by preying on a young girl’s confusion.