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 she needs it.
A judge will decide on the parents’ motion today.
Meanwhile, Bary, who turns 18 next week, has refused to meet with her family. Her lawyers say the girl fears her parents still.
[Oh, ye of little faith. But I digress.]
Adding to the complexity of this passion play is the undocumented immigrant status of the entire Bary family. Rifqa is seeking to avoid deportation so she can continue her medical treatment … which her parents say she is refusing.
Confused yet? I’ve been following this story for a year, and even I have trouble understanding it.
If things weren’t already strange enough, it seems the neo-Pentecostal Christians surrounding Bary say she has a special prophetic role to play as someone who has escaped the “evil” of Islam.
Bary made a dramatic, and somewhat disturbing appearance on a telephone prayer call last year, at a time when she was supposed to be denied access to the people who
helped her run lured her away from her home.
Islamophobe Pamela Geller has been touting Bary’s situation as another case of Muslim “honor killing” for apostasy (converting to Christianity), while accusing the girl’s parents of crimes they have neither committed nor seem inclined to commit.
The religious aspect of this family drama stinks worse than the Fulton fish market, as my mother used to say. This girl is being exploited by so-called faithful people who have no real regard for her welfare. They just want her to play a part in their imaginary End Times battle between Christians and Muslims.
If the girl had been helped by some wacko cult to run away from her Christian parents, the cult would have been vilified and the girl would be home now (maybe after some needed counseling). Does the name Elizabeth Smart ring any bells?
Instead, the supposedly well-meaning busybodies who interfered with the Bary’s family life — instead of going directly to civil authorities — get free passes because they are “Christian” and the girls’ parents are distrusted because they’re Muslim and in the State illegally.
It ain’t right.