COLUMBUS, Ohio (BP)--Rifqa Bary, a 17-year-old girl who fled her family's home after converting from Islam to Christianity, is doing well in foster care, attending weekly counseling sessions and will graduate from high school in June, Bary's attorney told an Ohio judge April 5.
The attorney, Angela Lloyd, also asked Franklin County Domestic Relations Judge Elizabeth Gill to rule that Bary would not be reunited with her parents by Aug. 10 -- her 18th birthday -- so she can file for special immigration status while she is still a minor, the Columbus Dispatch reported. That would allow Bary to petition to remain in the United States without her parents' consent.
Bary's family needs new immigration documents to remain in the country, attorneys have said in court, and Bary's attorney is seeking to separate the 17-year-old from the family's new application, the Dispatch reported. Gill said another hearing on the girl's immigration status would be held soon.
The girl ran away to Florida in July 2009, saying that her Muslim father, Mohamed Bary, threatened to kill her for becoming a Christian. Florida's Department of Children and Families took emergency protective custody of her in August 2009 and placed her with foster parents. Her parents denied the accusations, and on Oct. 13 a judge ordered her returned to Ohio, where she was placed in the custody of a local children's services agency.
In an affidavit filed in August 2009, Bary said her father Mohamed Bary, a jeweler, found a copy of "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren hidden in her bedroom. He had a serious talk with her about retaining the Islamic bloodline in their family, she said, adding that she didn't admit her conversion.
After receiving e-mails and phone calls from the family's mosque, the Noor Islamic Cultural Center, urging him to "deal with this matter immediately," Bary's father asked her if she had converted to Christianity.
"In a fit of anger that I had never seen before in my life, he picked up my laptop, waved it over my head as if to strike me with it and said, 'If you have this Jesus in your heart, you are dead to me! You are no longer my daughter,'" Bary said in the affidavit, according to the Florida Baptist Witness newspaper.
"I continued to remain silent and then he said to me even more angry than before, 'I will kill you! Tell me the truth!'" Bary said.
For his part, Bary's father claims his daughter was brainwashed by the Orlando co-pastors she contacted shortly after arriving in town. She reportedly became acquainted with Blake and Beverly Lorenz of Global Revolution Church through a prayer group on Facebook. They gave her temporary shelter before she was transferred to a foster home, the Witness said. Read More