Rifqa Bary with attorneys Angela Lloyd and Erik Henry
This morning Franklin County Juvenile Court Magistrate Mary Goodrich released Christian convert Rifqa Bary from juvenile supervision, ending hearings regarding possible reunion with her Muslim parents, Mohammed and Aysha, illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka. Judge Mary Goodrich who had ruled in Rifqa’s favor on August 5th had wished her “happy birthday” reaching her majority on this her 18th birthday.
Former Muslim United President, Nonie Darwish added her birthday best wishes to Bary. Darwish welcomed her to consider becoming a member of the group advocating human and civil rights for those who leave Islam in the face of death Fatwas under Sharia.
Still outstanding is the matter of Bary’s application for special juvenile immigration status as an abused underage minor based on filings from her attorneys regarding abuse by her parents, as well as, evidence concerning death threats made against her for her apostasy under Sharia.
Gag orders were lifted so that Rifqa and her attorneys could make statements. Bary wisely chose to remain silent waiting to speak publicly at a more propitious time. The spunky, and brilliant young woman has been through a lot this past year since fleeing her parents’ home in Columbus, Ohio in July, 2009 to be given sanctuary in Orlando by Pastors Beverly and Blake Lorenz. The Lorenzes paid the price when they were fired by their own Church, in part, because of their selfless act of sheltering the teenage runaway. The public series of juvenile court hearings in Florida and Ohio have made Bary’s saga a compelling story about the plight of those who by personal choice leave Islam, often with a history of abuse. Rifqa’s plight was complicated by the discovery and treatment of uterine cancer by surgery and chemotherapy leaving her hopefully cancer free. This is disputed by her estranged Muslim parents seeking more chemotherapy sessions.
The Columbus Dispatch noted the scene in the Franklin County courtroom and the comments of her counsel, Attorneys Angels Lloyd and Kort Gatterdam about the case, pending immigration status matter and Rifqa’s possible future.
Rifqa has decided not to talk to the media immediately, her attorneys said.
“She has suffered so much, and there have been so many traumatic events at this time,” attorney Angela Lloyd said. “She’s just not ready to make a statement.”
Lloyd and Rifqa’s other attorney, Kort Gatterdam, declined to provide details on where Rifqa will live or what she will do next.
But it appears Rifqa has missionary work in mind.
“She looks forward to ‘preaching the word to all the nations,’ ” Lloyd said.”And those are her words.”
She’s “trying to be Rifqa Bary, the Christian evangelist who’s ready to go out and change the world.”
Gatterdam said he was ready for a trial with ample evidence to back Rifqa’s accusations that her parents threatened and physically abused her from a very young age. He said authorities didn’t find wrongdoing on her parents’ part because the investigations didn’t go far enough. He and Lloyd declined to comment on her immigration status or attempts to secure a visa.
Rifqa’s parents released a bizarre statement given the ruling by Judge Goodrich that reconciliation was not possible, accusing Florida Governor Charlie Crest of engaging in ‘politics’ and racial bigotry but holding open the possible of reconciliation.
The Columbus Dispatch Report noted what appears to be a political statement prepared by their CAIR-supplied counsel:
After the hearing, they released a statement that said this to Rifqa: “No matter what has happened, you will always be our daughter, we love you, and the door will always be open if you want to have a relationship with us.”
They expressed concern that Rifqa, who was diagnosed with uterine cancer, has chosen not to undergo chemotherapy. They criticized Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, saying he used the case to gain political benefit with “his extreme right-wing base of support” despite great damage to the family.
“The sad reality is that when our daughter’s usefulness has been used up for the political agenda of xenophobia and religious bigotry, when they have moved on to other ways of putting Islam and immigrants on trial, then they will not care about Rifqa Bary anymore. But she will still be our daughter and we will be happy to reconcile with her and heal our broken family.”
Let us hope that Ms Bary will flourish with her new found freedom and security whatever and wherever her career plans take her.