Friday, August 21, 2009

Christian Convert Seeks Religious Freedom In Florida

Rifqa Bary says that when her father learned that she had converted to Christianity and had been baptized without his knowledge that he abused her. Bary said her conversion from the Muslim faith is apostasy and punishable by death. In her words:

"If I had stayed in Ohio, I wouldn't be alive," she said. "In 150 generations in family, no one has known Jesus. I am the first — imagine the honor in killing me.

"There is great honor in that, because if they love Allah more than me, they have to do it. It's in the Koran," said in the interview, which has been posted on YouTube.

She didn’t stay in Ohio but instead escaped to Florida where she has become the subject of a court battle. At a hearing held today, Judge Dan Dawson ruled that Bary will stay in Florida until the hearing, scheduled for September 3rd. Asked at the hearing if she wished to speak, Bary said, "I love my family. I love them so much ... yet I'm so in fear of my life." She then expressed her devotion to Christianity.

Gov. Charlie Crist praised the judge's decision, and Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner said that "no one, child or adult, should have to fear for their lives because of their religious choices."

Marco Rubio has issued this press release:

Miami, FL–U.S. Senate candidate and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio today issued the following statement regarding Rifqa Bary's court case:

"America has a rich tradition of religious freedom that is enshrined in our First Amendment. Today in Florida, this freedom could be at stake as a court considers the case of 17 year-old Rifqa Bary.

"This young woman fled from Ohio to Florida, fearing she would be killed for converting from Islam to Christianity. As the court weighs the facts of this case, I hope it will take her expressed fears seriously and not rush to an irreversible decision that may ultimately endanger her.

"It is imperative that state officials use every legal tool at their disposal to properly evaluate Rifqa's best interests. Florida has a responsibility not only to protect her innocent life, but also to defend her sacred right to worship freely."

This young woman is in fear for her life. Both of her parents profess their love for her and say that they just want their daughter home. Unfortunately, honor killings do take place. Bary alleges past abuse and we have no reason not to take her at her word. As a mother, I understand the difficult position that Bary’s parents are in. However, Rifqa Bary’s right to safety and her right to practice her religious unimpeded should trump all other considerations.

Atlas Shrugs has detailed information on today’s hearing.

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