Muslim Teen Fears for Life After Changing Religion

John Couwels, CNN, September 3, 2009

A Muslim teenager from Ohio says her father threatened to kill her because she converted to Christianity.

Rifqa Bary, 17, ran away from her family in Columbus, Ohio, in July and took refuge in the central Florida home of the Rev. Blake Lorenz with the Global Revolution Church in Orlando.

The teen heard of the pastor and his church through a prayer group on Facebook. The girl’s parents reported her missing to Columbus police, who found her two weeks later in Florida through cell phone records.

The teenager, in a sworn affidavit, claims her father, Mohamed Bary, 47, was pressured by the mosque the family attends in Ohio to “deal with the situation.” In the court filing, Rifqa Bary stated her father said, “If you have this Jesus in your heart, you are dead to me!” The teenager claims her father added, “I will kill you!”

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Stemberger [John Stemberger, Rifqa Bary’s attorney and president of the Christian advocacy organization Florida Family Policy Council] told CNN he agreed with his client that she would be killed by radical Muslims if she is returned to Ohio.

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The teen’s attorney said his client has endured a history of abuse from her family. Stemberger said the young girl was forced to wear the Muslim headscarf called a hijab and was punched in the face by her father for being ashamed while wearing it.

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Mohamed Bary, who is not a United States citizen, said he can’t believe all the false allegations and the bad image caused by the situation.

“We are not bad people,” Bary said. “We are not like that, we are normal.”

The mother’s attorney said the teenager was a normal girl, a cheerleader in Ohio, and what Muslim extremist would allow his daughter be a cheerleader?

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