The teenager from Ohio looks like a typical American high school student, but her life took a dramatic, and definitely atypical, turn this summer when her father discovered that she had become a Christian. Her Muslim father, she said, threatened to kill her because by leaving Islam she shamed her family. She escaped in July to live with a Florida evangelical pastor -Reverend Bart Lorenz – and his family who were members of the young girl’s prayer group on Facebook.
Rifqa Bary testified to her faith in late August before Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson, fully aware that by doing so she would be threatened not just by her father but by the whole Islamic community of Columbus, Ohio. Her testimony to her four-year-old Christian faith is a crime against the nation-state of Islam, and her apostasy is cause for death under Islamic law. Now her family has vowed to kill her to satisfy their “honor,” and the Islamic community in her former home has a “duty” to kill her because of the tenets of their religion.
Predictably, none of the so-called “progressives” who fight for “justice” and “women’s rights” are willing to take a stand for a young girl caught in the crossfire of Islamic extremism. The left is describing Rifqa as an overwrought, rebellious teenager brainwashed by born-again Christians. Many so-called “Christians” are blithely and naively questioning the validity of Islam’s commitment to violence. Skeptics are raising questions about Rifqa’s story and the couple who are protecting her. Others are getting lost in philosophical and ideological quagmires while forgetting that a girl’s life is at stake. They are forgetting that Rifqa is not the first young woman in America to face death because of her conversion to Christianity – at least three other girls were slain in honor killings.
Judge Dawson gave Rifqa a reprieve by putting her under protective custody until today’s hearing that will determine her fate. She has a reprieve, but her life still hangs in the balance. Islamists assumed Judge Dawson would send her back to her parents, and they discounted the public outcry from people who heard the desperation in Rifqa’s voice and believed her testimony.
After the Judge’s ruling, the Islamic jihadists launched an all-out campaign spreading rumors about Rifqa: that she was wild, unmanageable and immoral. Further, they are trying to obfuscate the situation to make it appear that the public just doesn’t understand the Islamic faith and are prejudiced against Muslims who are, in their depiction, “upright citizens” who are being victimized by “anti-Muslim racists.” Conservative websites – Atlas Shrugs, Jawa Report and WorldNetDaily – that have been championing Rifqa’s cause have been under attack by the huge and very popular Leftist blog, Daily Kos. Even Time magazine published a pseudo-sophisticated attack against what they call a “culture-war circus” – those who are exposing the violence and Sharia oppression of Islamic Jihadism.
The magazine suggests that the evangelicals who rescued Rifqa lured her away and are using her to stoke “Christianity’s holy struggle against Islam.” Others blatantly accuse evangelicals of “propagating hate against Islam” and creating a “farce.” Even in the face of contrary evidence, some Muslims are claiming that there is no such thing as an honor killing and argue that those sheltering Rifqa are “using her for their own selfish gains.” They are claiming that Islam is “the fastest growing religion in the United States” with “over a billion followers,” so those involved in Rifqa’s cause are just “jealous” and “should get rid of their bias.”
The accusations are getting harsh and threatening. Some are accusing the Lorenz family of “abduction” and are calling for Florida’s social service officials to get involved in the case.
Robert Spencer, author of The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran and an acknowledged scholar on Islam, is countering the tsunami of attacks on Rifqa and those who are defending her. Spencer points out that it is not “anti-Muslim” to expose facts, nor is it “hate speech” to explain the distortions used by the jihadists to justify violence and murder against those who leave Islam or those within Islam who exercise their legitimate human rights.
Other scholars substantiate Spencer’s observations that the Koran is clear that apostasy is a capital offense and that faithful Muslims are required to carry out the death penalty. Others argue that the First Amendment of the American Constitution is equally clear that religious freedom is a fundamental right of citizens.
If Rifqa is returned to her family, there is a strong possibility that her family will take the substantial amount of money that her father has just acquired from liquidating his jewelry business to go back to their native Sri Lanka where they would not be subject to American laws when they carry out the “honor killing.”
Finally, though we have a moral obligation to protect Rifqa, this case has broader significance as well. Rifqa’s safety is a matter of applying America’s principles of religious freedom and defending the First Amendment. Anything else subordinates American law, justice, and tradition to Islamic Sharia Law.
If there was ever a time to reassert our hard-won American uniqueness, this is it. We live in a time when “change” has made Americans increasingly unsure about what this nation stands for. But there really isn’t any ambiguity about Rifqa’s case; her freedom depends on our adherence to established U.S. Constitutional law.