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Rifqa Speaks (NSFW)
October 1, 2009 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Rifqa Bary, the Ohio teen who ran away from her Muslim parents because she believed they would kill her for converting to Christianity, has appeared on a weekly anti-Islam conference call hosted by the National Day of Prayer Task Force (headed by the wife of Focus on the Family's James Dobson, Lou Engle of The Call & Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council). Rifqa, who is in custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families and was not authorized to be on the call, shared some of her story and then launched into an extended passionate prayer. DCF officials are investigating how she came to be on the call.
posted by scalefree (46 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
That Orlando Sentinel link says nothing about the call being specifically anti-Islamic. Did you omit a link?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:30 PM on October 1, 2009


Ah, so sorry. Yes, here's a link to the origin of the story. Dunno how I missed it.
posted by scalefree at 4:34 PM on October 1, 2009


What about this is NSFW?
posted by mathowie at 4:34 PM on October 1, 2009


It's kind of an intense prayer. There's no cursing or anything b ut still, it may not be appropriate for some workplaces.
posted by scalefree at 4:37 PM on October 1, 2009


Everything about this is weapons-grade crazypants.
posted by The Whelk at 4:39 PM on October 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


The family that 'took the girl in' gives me the creeps. I feel like the pastor--well, look, anyone seen the religious zealots on True Blood?

Yeah, he's like that.
posted by misha at 4:41 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


From the The Call website:

Now these events are enough to awaken us to this significant throbbing moment...

as opposed to an everyday throbbing moment...
posted by Huck500 at 4:45 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


can you imagine if the situation was flipped and a Christian kid ran away from her parents and so publicly converted to Islam?
posted by edgeways at 4:58 PM on October 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


I feel sad for this apparently exploited youth. I do wonder how many 17 year olds are being held against their will (presumably she wants to go to this ohio family), and its somewhat chilling that a state agency is 'investigating' a phone call.

As for the christian groups exploiting her - I expect such behavior from the people and organizations mentioned in the article.

For the Islamic church that was praying for her return - I would expect such prayers are held by Christian churches whose parishioners children have runaway.

Offtopic: Intense prayers - NSFW. I don't disagree, but it makes me wonder what other categories of NSFW content might be out there that we haven't identified yet.
posted by el io at 5:02 PM on October 1, 2009


can you imagine if the situation was flipped and a Christian kid ran away from her parents and so publicly converted to Islam?

I'm sure public opinion would be against anyone that threatens to kill their child for converting to another religion.
posted by gyc at 5:09 PM on October 1, 2009


Where does it say it's a weekly call?

I do wonder how many 17 year olds are being held against their will (presumably she wants to go to this ohio family), ,

Huh? She ran away from Ohio.
posted by Jahaza at 5:15 PM on October 1, 2009


I'm sure public opinion would be against anyone that threatens to kill their child for converting to another religion.

If they did in fact say this. Which, if you've seen the family and the girl and the pastor who took her in...well, I'm not so sure.
posted by misha at 5:18 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


But Mohamed Bary and his wife Aysha adamantly insist it is "completely false" that they ever threatened to kill Rifqa over her conversion. "We love her; we want her back. She is free to practice her religion, whatever she believes in. That's O.K.," Mohamed told the Associated Press last week.

Columbus police tell TIME they're watching the case closely and are in contact with the courts and social-services agencies in Ohio and Florida; so far they have found no evidence or other information to support Rifqa's accusation. Craig McCarthy, one of two Orlando attorneys appointed to represent the Barys in Florida, says that while they may have been dismayed at first by Rifqa's conversion, as devout parents of any faith would be, they are hardly the kind of fundamentalist Muslims who would declare a medieval fatwa, or death sentence, on their daughter. "There is a vast, vast difference between not being pleased that your child has not chosen your faith and wanting to kill your child," says McCarthy. "This is a family with Westernized kids. Their daughter is a cheerleader."
via
posted by
misha at 5:23 PM on October 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Rifqa's parents, in case anyone was wondering. Their position can be summed up succinctly as, "WTF?"
posted by Saucy Intruder at 5:25 PM on October 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


What's this "not authorized" business? She doesn't have First Amendment rights of free speech and free association?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:39 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Odd that the "National Day of Prayer" doesn't include Muslim prayers. Maybe they should be more specific.
posted by Avenger at 5:40 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


If she is under 18 those rights are severely curtailed, many Rights are.
posted by edgeways at 5:43 PM on October 1, 2009


can you imagine if the situation was flipped and a Christian kid ran away from her parents and so publicly converted to Islam?

I'm sure it would work out just fine.
posted by PlusDistance at 5:57 PM on October 1, 2009


I'm pretty sure that most people who convert to Islam don't become terrorists.
posted by Avenger at 6:40 PM on October 1, 2009


This sounds like a joke. I get emails from most of the religious left and right and I have not heard anything about this at all. Which makes me think it's a quiet narrative of a dying thought. Look: she was just on a conference call; she had to get to Florida from Ohio to appear on the conference call - an idea based on the relative openness of Ohio fundamentalists to use this girl to their advantage.

Second to the poster: why can't you name James Dobson's wife? This is a badly constructed post. Unless she prefers to be called the wife of James Dobson I think you could have done your homework.
posted by parmanparman at 6:51 PM on October 1, 2009


I'm pretty sure that most people who convert to Islam don't become terrorists.

Not to derail, but Lindh was no terrorist and was unfortunately blindsided with knee jerk reactions post 9/11. He also didn't "run away" but was always loved and supported by his family.

Also, I don't have a cite (and data is probably sketchy) but I would hazard a guess that the conversion rate from Christian to Muslim is many orders of magnitude greater than the reverse.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:57 PM on October 1, 2009


This sounds like a joke.

Rifqa's story is no joke; she's a real girl who ran away from her home in Ohio to live with Christians in Florida where the state stepped in & took custody of her. Google her name, there's enough stories about her to satisfy anybody. The call was recorded & webbed by Right Wing Watch.

As for Shirley Dobson, I simply felt who she was married to was the most relevant thing about her & that adding her first name made for an awkward construction. People know who James Dobson is, they wouldn't know Shirley from a hole in the ground.
posted by scalefree at 7:17 PM on October 1, 2009


And my goodness, she's not going to convince any Muslims with that screaming.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:26 PM on October 1, 2009


These people are pimping her as some kind of latter day Esther as well. Kind of sick.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:31 PM on October 1, 2009


@Gyc, I agree that we'd definitely consider it the screwed up news story of the week, but the problem is that in this case, a group of prominent fundamentalist Christians are using this to characterize all of Islam. Considering all the awful stuff we hear Christians do, most of the public (regardless of their personal faith or lack thereof) would be able to say "Yeah, but they're extremists following a perverted interpretation," "But Christianity is all about love and family," or "They're crazy, and their belief has nothing to do with it."

Here, this is just ammo for people who feel animosity towards Islam as a whole, rather than just the terrorists. They want to believe that Islam and everyone in it is the enemy, which is a simpler worldview than trying to grasp complex geopolitics, so they'll take all the evidence they can get. I'm not sure if it's fear from 9/11, the need for a concrete enemy in the war on terror, or just general xenophobia, but I really feel like it's completely counterproductive to diplomacy and a real thorn in the side of our national character. How can we continue to call ourselves a tolerant, egalitarian nation when we let ourselves form these views?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:32 PM on October 1, 2009


If she felt her life was in danger I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:38 PM on October 1, 2009


If she felt her life was in danger I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.


This has been a hot topic for months now, and while I'm not up for a big debate, suffice to say that the general picture the has emerged has been that people outside of her family at the mosque carried things a bit too far, but then people on the Christian side of the fence went further and instilled that ridiculous Esther complex. Meanwhile her actual family is all "huh"?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:41 PM on October 1, 2009


If she felt her life was in danger I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Her family's offered her diary as proof she hadn't been threatened, which her wingnut defenders promptly used to complain about invading her privacy. You can't win with some people.
posted by scalefree at 7:52 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


If she felt her life was in danger I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

In that case, I seriously know a lot of teenagers who should have been given over to DFCS. When I wrecked the car back in the day, I was in fear. Maybe I was better off just running away and becoming a foster kid.
posted by jmd82 at 8:44 PM on October 1, 2009


This sounds like a joke. I get emails from most of the religious left and right and I have not heard anything about this at all.

Definitely not a joke. I've been seeing regular facebook updates from some of my more conservative Christian friends asking for support and prayers for her for several weeks, at least, even though I haven't heard about it in the news. But we do live in Ohio.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:33 PM on October 1, 2009


Poor girl.

I mean, she wants to run away from creepy, coercive ideology and overbearing family pressure on religion and she ends up siding with... James Dobson.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:43 AM on October 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


I mean, she wants to run away from creepy, coercive ideology and overbearing family pressure on religion and she ends up siding with... James Dobson.

It's Christianity, though, so that kind of brainwashing is Okay.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:24 AM on October 2, 2009


The girls actual prayer sounds like heavily supressed and diverted late-teen sexuality. Which is a specialty of both religions, so she's really gone nowhere different.
posted by telstar at 5:29 AM on October 2, 2009


If she felt her life was in danger I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

yeah, because teenagers NEVER say "my parents will KILL me when i get home"
posted by pyramid termite at 6:31 AM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, if she lived in Pakistan, she'd already probably be dead.

I do hope this gets sorted out...but again, none of us on this website know her OR her parents OR the people her folks go to the mosque with. I'd rather give her the benefit of the doubt and be wrong than the other way round.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:13 AM on October 2, 2009



Well, if she lived in Pakistan, she'd already probably be dead.


Seriously?

Well, if she lived in [place I have a strongly imprinted stereotype about], she'd already [fulfill that stereotype].

Which, you know, well and good and all...but why are your preconceived notions about what happens in Pakistan relevant to the discussion of a girl who is certainly being played by both sides of some ecclesiastical dispute with little regards to her, personally, and quite possibly to her parents' gobsmacking disbelief.
posted by Fezboy! at 7:49 AM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, if she lived in Pakistan, she'd already probably be dead.

You're one of the most willfully misinformed people on this website.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:51 AM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do hope this gets sorted out...but again, none of us on this website know her OR her parents OR the people her folks go to the mosque with. I'd rather give her the benefit of the doubt and be wrong than the other way round. [shorter version: you never can tell]

er, that is partially why DFCS is involved, and to-date it sounds like the girl is all angsty teen turmoil queen, with little to nothing supporting any credible treats of harm originating from the family. She should be given a LJ account to pour out her "tortured soul" into.

Yeah and the -In Pakistan they'd kill her- comment is a little loose and inflammatory which I suspect you should unreservedly withdraw and plead ignorance.
posted by edgeways at 8:34 AM on October 2, 2009


Burhanistan: "You're one of the most willfully misinformed people on this website."

Fezboy!: "if she lived in [place I have a strongly imprinted stereotype about], she'd already [fulfill that stereotype]."

Well, hold on. From Blasphemy laws in Pakistan:
The Federal Sharia Court (FSC) is a religious body which rules on whether any particular law is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam.
(...)
The blasphemy laws are part of a system which segregates Muslims from non-Muslims, and prevents non-Muslims from having much control over their lives. The system fosters injustice, sectarian violence and violence between religions. The usual victims are Shia, Ahmadiyya, Christians, and Hindus. The authorities do little to prevent attacks on minorities or to punish the perpetrators of religion-inspired violence.
(...)
Those who are accused of blasphemy may be subject to harassment, threats, and attacks. Police, lawyers, and judges may also be subject to harassment, threats, and attacks when blasphemy is in issue. Those accused of blasphemy are subject to immediate incarceration, and most accused are denied bail to forestall mob violence. It is common for those accused of blasphemy to be put in solitary confinement for their protection from other inmates and guards. Like those who have served a sentence for blasphemy, those who are acquitted of blasphemy usually go into hiding or leave Pakistan. Pakistan Minorities Democratic Movement under the leadership of Atif Jamil Pagaan is striving to convince the legislators, media persons and civil society of Pakistan to advocate ending the Blasphemy Law.
I don't know that I buy into the idea that this girl would certainly die in Pakistan, but it seems that there's well documented precedent of converts ("blasphemers") suffering greatly in Pakistan or being forced out of the country because of their religious choices.

Further, the Council on Foreign Relations notes that "Conversion by Muslims to other faiths is forbidden under most interpretations of sharia and converts are considered apostates"

St. Alia may have spoken glibly, but there's decent evidence to back up her notion. Pakistan may be considered progressive for an Islamic country, but that would be because e.g. death sentences for apostasy are not part of the legal system. It doesn't speak to the apparently common dogmatic views of the average Muslim citizen within Pakistan, though.

On a personal note, I think this might be a good example on why the U.S. should adopt The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; one of the main problems many Americans seem to have is that it'll lead their child astray religiously. Here's a case where the opposite is true.

posted by boo_radley at 9:04 AM on October 2, 2009


Whoops, here's a link for the CFR: http://www.cfr.org/publication/13552/religious_conversion_and_sharia_law.html.
posted by boo_radley at 9:06 AM on October 2, 2009


none of us on this website know her OR her parents OR the people her folks go to the mosque with

well, none of us know the dobsons or her friends or the people in the church she's now going to, either

but curiously enough, you've decided that the christians get the benefit of the doubt and the muslims don't

you're prejudiced

me, i think a 17 year old girl is going to be old enough in a short while to decide for herself anyway, so i think she should do as she sees fit - but i would advise her that things are never going to be complete or satisfactory for her in life if she can't come to some kind of understanding with her family
posted by pyramid termite at 9:48 AM on October 2, 2009


So, boo_radley, we're to believe that blasphemy laws apply to minor children of Muslim parents in Pakistan? Or that it would be the child and not the parents who suffer? Or that "fosters injustice" is the same as certain death?

And most pertinent of all, how exactly is the theoretical treatment of this young lady in an arbitrary country germane to the topic of this FPP? St. Alia might as well have said "Well, if she was in France, she'd probably already be a cheese-eating surrender monkey."

This is, putatively, a discussion about a young lady on the horns of a internecine dilemma who is being used as a pawn exemplar by both horns. Additionally, there is the question as to how her parents appear to have reacted to Rifqa's conversion with most every indication that her claims of mortal danger verge on teenage histrionics.

Speculating on her level of danger in an arbitrary Islamic state is, at best, an unnecessary topical shift and, at worst, an injection of anti-Islamic prejudice from one of our community's more vocal Christians. This was the point of my comment.

At no time did I imply
  1. Pakistan proffers equal protection to all faiths
  2. St. Alia is dreadfully misinformed. Having strongly imprinted stereotypes, yes, but not mis-informed
But thanks for the discourse on blasphemy laws. It was truly enlightening and I mean that non-sarcastically.
posted by Fezboy! at 10:02 AM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, they're from Sri Lanka. What's all this noise about Pakistan and its laws?
posted by LiliaNic at 11:10 AM on October 2, 2009


If she lived on the moon, she'd probably already be dead too.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:15 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is apostasy, not blasphemy. And being a woman, the proper punishment for her, according to most Muslim scholars, would not be death, but rather life imprisonment:

"In Islam, apostasy is called "ridda" ("turning back") and is considered to be a profound insult to God. A person born of Muslim parents that rejects Islam is called a "murtad fitri" (natural apostate), and a person that converted to Islam and later rejects the religion is called a "murtad milli" (apostate from the community).[9]

According to most scholars, if a Muslim consciously and without coercion declares their rejection of Islam and does not change their mind after the time given to him/her by a judge for research, then the penalty for male apostates is death, and for women, life imprisonment. However, this view has been rejected by a small minority of modern Muslim scholars (eg Hasan al-Turabi), who argues that the hadith in question should be taken to apply only to political betrayal of the Muslim community, rather than to apostasy in general.[10] These scholars regard apostasy as a serious crime, but argue for the freedom to convert to and from Islam without legal penalty, and consider the aforementioned Hadith quote as insufficient justification for capital punishment. Today apostasy is punishable by death in the countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, Mauritania and the Comoros. In Qatar apostasy is a capital offense, but no executions have been reported for it.[11]

The hadith has been used both by supporters of the death penalty as well as critics of Islam. Some Islamic scholars[citation needed] point out it is important to understand the hadith in proper historical context. The order was at a time when the nascent Muslim community in Medina was fighting for its very life, and there were many schemes, by which the enemies of Islam would try to entice rebellion and discord within the community.[12] Clearly any defection would have serious consequences for the Muslims, and the hadith may well be about treason, rather than just apostasy. It must also be pointed out that under the terms of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, any Muslim who returned to Mecca was not to be returned, terms which the Prophet accepted. Despite this historical point, Islamic law as currently practiced does not allow the freedom to choose one's religion."

So all she has to do is say that the evil Christians forced her to reject her faith and she's home free.
posted by sour cream at 1:09 PM on October 2, 2009


"In Islam, apostasy is called "ridda" ("turning back") and is considered to be a profound insult to God. A person born of Muslim parents that rejects Islam is called a "murtad fitri" (natural apostate), and a person that converted to Islam and later rejects the religion is called a "murtad milli"

and a person who just lipsynchs the prayers is called a "milli vanilli"
posted by pyramid termite at 8:24 PM on October 2, 2009


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