Fathima Rifqa Bary, 17 (Facebook photo)
The teenager who fled her Muslim family in Ohio, fearing them after her conversion to Christianity, has suggested there are problems with her family’s immigration status in the United States.
The comments from Rifqa Bary came during her interview with Florida authorities, who stepped into her case after she fled Ohio and rode a bus to Florida where she sought help from members of a church she had found online.
She reported that she feared she could become the victim of an “honor killing,” which is recognized in Islam-dominated cultures to purge a dishonor – such as one member abandoning Islam – from a family.
A judge in Florida recently ruled that she should be returned to Ohio where child protective authorities have promised to handle the case, but the Florida judge said that would not happen until he received documents regarding her education and the status in the United States of the family, originally from Sri Lanka.
According to the transcript, the teen said there were issues with her family’s “legal status here.”
“I think my parents are waiting for all that to be sorted out,” she reported.
She raised the issue again a minute later, explaining she traveled to Florida by bus instead of airplane.
“I mean, I can’t fly, I don’t have legal status to do so. You guys have seen that,” she said.
During a recent court hearing, the Florida guardian ad litem assigned to the case also told Judge Daniel Dawson it appeared the teen was not in the United States legally.
The issue is significant in the case in that family members could face deportation if, in fact, there is no legal authorization for them to remain in the United States. But in Rifqa’s case, the United States has a procedure to allow her to remain if, in fact, she would face the possibility of injury or death if she were forced to return to Sri Lanka.
As the United Nations documents an estimated 5,000 such “honor killings” annually, including some in the United States, such a fear would seem to be supported by fact, according to commentators who have looked into the case.
Rifqa’s private attorney, John Stemberger, is unable to comment to the press because of a gag order from the judge on attorneys in the case.
During the interview Rifqa also described to investigators her religious conversion, talked of abuse she experienced and told of an “arranged marriage” that was awaiting her.
Her family has denied her claims, promising that all they want is to have her return home. Investigators in Ohio said they found no grounds for worries about her life.
But blogger Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs continues to suggest people contact Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s office urging him to keep Rifqa in Florida.
She noted that during Rifqa’s interview with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, she was not allowed to have an attorney – not even the guardian ad litem – present.
“I think it is a terrible violation of this poor girl that they would release a minor’s testimony. Add this to the parents’ release of her private papers and flash drive to CAIR and the media. Psychological rape is what it is,” she wrote.
The interview documents how Rifqa feared she might be returned to Sri Lanka by her parents, upset over her departure from Islam.
“All the laws are very different than here, it’s allowed there, um, so they could do whatever they wanted and that, I was in very much fear of,” she said.
She had heard stories of others who left Islam, and were punished.
“I had heard of cases like mine so similar that … was scary to me,” she said.
She said her family’s move to Ohio from an Islamic culture already had sparked concern.
“And after we came to Ohio my parents were very fixated on not losing honor, way of life, you know, even though you are in America, these are our laws. I couldn’t be a normal teenager. I have to follow a lot of dress codes, there were food codes, there was a code of religious laws.”
Geller earlier warned that Rifqa was a high-value target for Islamists.
“Apostasy is the most egregious crime against Islam. Her crime is not just against the family. It is against Islam,” she said.
She cited a pro-Islamic site on Facebook where the terse threat “we need to kill her” appeared.
Robert Spencer, the terror expert who posts at JihadWatch.org, noted that as soon as Geller posted information about the threat, the Facebook site on which it appeared was taken down.
WND reported earlier that the Muslim parents are devout members of a mosque with ties to numerous terrorist leaders, according to reports from her attorney, who spoke before a gag order was imposed.
The Christian teen turned to pastors Blake and Beverly Lorenz of Global Revolution Church in Orlando, Fla., whom she met through Facebook, but eventually was put in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families.