Muslim Convert to Christianity Wins Dependency, Declared Ward of State
By Jerry A. Kane
Rifqa Bary, who fled to Florida last year claiming her life was in danger over her conversion from Islam to Christianity, will remain in foster care until she turns 18 in August, after which she will be free to live where she chooses.
Bary’s dependency case was settled today in an Ohio juvenile court after her Muslim parents gave up their opposition to dependency.
“Apparently, Rifqa’s parents realized that they were not going to win the dependency case should it have [gone] to trial,” said Jamal Jivanjee, director of the Illuminate ministry who met Bary before her conversion controversy began.
A trial also could have harmed Islam’s image in the United States by putting its apostasy law with its death penalty in the national spotlight.
In return for her parents dropping their opposition to dependency, Bary admitted that she had violated rules by fleeing her home and agreed to plead to an “unruly” charge, which is not a criminal offense that could jeopardize her future immigration claim.
Bary declared that her father, Mohamed Bary, had threatened her life upon learning of her Christian conversion. When she discovered her parents were making plans to move the family back to Sri Lanka, Bary connected with a Florida pastor and his wife over the social networking site Facebook.com and fled Ohio. Bary’s parents reported her missing to police July 19, and she was found living in Orlando.
Following two investigations, law enforcement officials determined Bary would not be in harms way if she returned home. But a juvenile court placed her in foster care until the case could be resolved. A trial to determine her dependency was scheduled for January 28, 2010.
While pleased with the recent events, Jivanjee remains concerned for the girl’s welfare.
“There have been numerous death threats made against her life because she left Islam to become a follower of Jesus,” he said.
Even though Bary’s case is now officially closed, her attorneys are working to move her to an unknown location since her current address was leaked in court.
The court has also placed severe restrictions on her communications. Bary’s computer and phone have been confiscated, and she cannot visit her friends. Her attorneys have argued against such restrictions pointing out that no juveniles in Ohio state custody have had such personal restrictions imposed on them.
Bary’s supporters are happy that they have achieved their goal and the dependency case is over, but they know more battles lie ahead.
Currently, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been pressuring the Franklin County prosecutor to indict Ohio pastor, Brian Williams, on kidnapping and other charges. Williams allegedly assisted Bary in leaving her Ohio residence and fleeing to Florida last year.