Muslim parents lose bid to force Christian convert daughter to continue cancer treatment
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Thursday August 5, 2010
The Muslim parents of a young Christian convert have had their request to order their daughter to continue chemotherapy for uterine cancer rejected in court.
The request from the parents of Rifqa Bary does not meet the legal requirement of a medical emergency needing immediate treatment, Ohio juvenile court magistrate Mary Goodrich said during a hearing in Franklin County.
Goodrich made the ruling at the beginning of what’s expected to be the final court appearances by Bary, who remains in foster care in state custody until she turns 18 next week.
Bary wants Goodrich to determine that reconciliation with her parents is impossible. The stakes are higher than a family reunion.
If the judge agrees with Rifqa Bary, an undocumented immigrant from Sri Lanka, the girl could also receive a special status allowing her to stay in the US.
A letter from Bary’s doctor recommending the 45 weeks of chemotherapy indicates she is cancer free for now according to available imaging technology, Bary’s attorney, Kort Gatterdam, told the judge.
The letter also says she suffers from a rare form of cancer for which there is no standard treatment.
Rifqa Bary stopped the treatment after becoming sick and in consultation with her doctor, Gatterdam said.
He disputed the faith healer allegation, saying Bary had attended a prayer conference after which she continued with surgeries and other treatment.
“Rifqa’s not saying she’ll never do the treatment again, that she’ll never do chemo,” Gatterdam said. “She’ll continue working with her doctor.”
Bary ran away from Ohio to Florida a year ago, alleging she could be hurt or killed for her religious conversion. Her parents deny she would have been harmed.
Converts to Islam are not harassed, intimidated, shunned by their families, relatives, and neighbors, or forced into hiding by murderously angry former co-religionists.
Muslim converts to Christianity are subjected to online death threats and can never see their families again. The pastors and priests who convert them remain at risk.
The very young and fragile Rifqa Bary, on trial now in Columbus, Ohio, is a symbol of all these issues.
Rifqa is the seventeen-year-old teenager who secretly converted to Christianity and who, in August of 2009, bravely fled her family’s home in Ohio. Not only did she claim serious childhood abuse, she also insisted that her family would honor murder her now that her conversion was known.
At the time, as a psychologist and the author of studies about honor killings in the West, I was asked by Florida’s Attorney General to submit an Affadavit on Rifqa’s behalf. I did so, as did my friend and colleague, Ibn Warraq, the author of “Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out.”
We both explained that Rifqa’s fears were utterly realistic; that apostasy is considered a capital crime in Islam; and that Muslim women had already been honor murdered in the West for this alleged “crime” and for refusing to convert to Islam. Some had been forced into hiding to save their lives.
In addition, I focused on the fact that Muslim girls and women have been honor murdered in the West for having Christian or non-Muslim friends, including boyfriends; for wanting to marry Christian men. Imagine how much more of a sin it is for a Muslim to choose a Christian God!
Rifqa did not get her day in court in Florida. She was returned to state custody in Ohio where she has been living with a foster family.
Now, Rifqa might finally be heard. Although she has been suffering from cancer, she has steadfastly refused to meet with her family—all of whom are here illegally from Sri Lanka and all of whom may be deported.
I am in awe of this young girl’s strength and desire to save her own life. The company she keeps include very many high profile Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents, feminists, and converts who live with round-the-clock police protection or in hiding.
Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D. is a frequent contributor to Fox News and blogs regularly at Pajamas Media and NewsReal Blog. She is the author of thirteen books, including “Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman” and “The New Anti-Semitism,” and may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com
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