Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rifqa Barry, a tormented soul

A religious war is ensuing through a bitter legal battle in a Florida family court where the plaintiff is being represented by none other than the Terri Schiavo fame conservative Christian lawyer John Stemberger. Rifqa’s parent, Mohamed and Aysha Barry left Sri Lanka for New York with their two kids, Rifqa and an older brother. They were concerned over Rifqa's well-being, who had injured her right eye playing with a toy airplane. Sri Lankan doctors wanted to remove the injured eye; Mohamed was desperate to seek better medical treatment for Rifqa to save it. The year was 2000.

Then, in 2004, Rifqa’s family moved again to Columbus area; this time Mohamed sought a better public education for the kids. Rifqa excelled in school maintaining a 3.5 grade-point average at New Albany High School in her new home town. Rifqa began exploring Christianity soon after she arrived in Ohio. In 2005, Rifqa converted to Christianity at the Korean United Methodist Church in Columbus. She eventually fled home. Talking about Mohamed’s children, Gary Abbott, (a close friend of Mohamed in the U.S. and a Christian) said, "He values them more than his own life."

In an article called The Christian Runaway Newsweek stated:

Once Barry’s case became public, numerous Christian conservatives fanned the flames. "This conflict between Islam and Christianity is going to grow greater," said Blake Lorenz, according to the St. Petersburg Times. "This conflict between good and evil is going to grow greater." Stemberger, Barry’s lawyer, filed a 33-page memorandum in her case that's filled with innuendo and provocative allegations against the Noor Center, the mosque that the Barry’s occasionally attend (on a conference call with reporters, Stemberger insisted that the accusations have been "documented extensively"). Among them: that the center is connected to an FBI terror probe (which the FBI denies) and that it’s CEO has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood (which, along with every other allegation, the Noor Center denies). The mosque is actually regarded as mainstream and regularly hosts interfaith events. "Unfortunately, hate groups appear to be using this family matter as an opportunity to attack the Muslim community and Islamic organizations in order to further their religious and political goals," the center said in a statement.

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