Five thousand honor killings testify to the danger Rifqa Bary faces.
In the Wall Street Journal American novelist Nidra Poller highlights a stark fact in the debate surrounding Rifqa Bary, the 17-year-old girl who claims her parents are duty-bound by their Islamic faith to kill her for apostacy, because she rejected Islam in favor of Christianity.
“I don’t know if you know about honor killings? But this faith—you guys don’t understand, Islam is very different than you guys think.” So avows runaway apostate Rifqa Bary, the focus of a so-called dependency battle that is expanding into a national debate on the conflict between Islamic mores and American freedom.
The 17-year-old had been practicing Christianity in secret for four years when she fled her home in central Ohio in July, fearing for her life after her parents discovered her defection. The Sri Lankan Bary family has been in the U.S. since 2000.
The girl, describing her parents as “devout Muslims,” can be seen on WFTV’s website telling her story to one of the station’s reporters. She speaks from the Florida home of Blake and Beverly Lorenz, a pastor couple with the Global Revolution Church who took her in.
“They have to kill me,” Miss Bary says. “My blood is now halal, which means that because I’m now a Christian—I’m from a Muslim background—it’s an honor. If they love God more than me, they have to do this. I’m fighting for my life, you guys don’t understand.” The juxtaposition of American teen lingo with medieval precepts is a chilling confirmation that a long-understood reality in Europe is only now dawning on American minds. “You guys talk about religious freedom? No—I don’t have that…I don’t want to die.”
At Thursday’s hearing before a packed Orlando courtroom, Judge Daniel Dawson rejected pleas from Mohamed and Aysha Bary to send their daughter back to Ohio, confirming she will remain in Florida pending investigation, with another hearing scheduled for Sept. 29.
“[Mr.] Bary is a middle-class jeweler with no documented history of abuse and no record of radical actions or beliefs,” the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Thomas wrote last month in a piece alleging anti-Muslim bias in Miss Bary’s case.
Five thousand victims of honor killings annually world-wide, according to a conservative U.N. estimate, bear witness against Mr. Thomas’s placid supposition. Women in Muslim countries and immigrant communities everywhere fall prey to an elaborate legal code enforced by torture and murder that deprives them of their civil rights, their human rights, their right to exist.
Sharia-sanctioned death for apostasy was recently confirmed by Harvard chaplain Taha Abdul-Basser, who sparked controversy in April when a private e-mail discussing punishment for leaving Islam was made public. Mr. Abdul-Basser notes, “There is great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment) and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand.”
As for human rights, the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, affirmed by 54 Muslim countries, notes these can be restricted for “Sharia-prescribed reasons,” including forced marriage and death for apostasy.
European awareness of honor killings contrasts with the artificial ignorance surrounding Ms. Bary’s case in the U.S. Europeans can’t ignore the specificity of savage murders of “wayward” girls who want the freedoms of their adopted countries. Stories of runaways enticed to come home and let all be forgiven, only to be met by their executioners, abound on the continent.
Ms. Poller is an American novelist living in Paris since 1972.