Muslim Girl's Parents End Fight to Get Her Back

Filed under: In The News

Rifqa Bary, shown Sept. 3, 2009 in an Orlando, Fla. courtroom, says she feared her parents would kill her for leaving Islam. Credit: Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda, Pool / AP


A Muslim girl who converted to Christianity doesn't have to return to her parents.

The Orlando Sentinel reports Fathima Rifqa Bary's parents have officially ended their efforts to get their daughter back after reaching an agreement with her and her lawyers.

As a result of the agreement, a family court in Columbus, Ohio, ruled on Tuesday that the girl can stay in foster care in Ohio until her 18th birthday in August.

So ends six months of controversy. It began in July when Bary left her home in Ohio and took a bus to Orlando, Fla. She stayed at the home of evangelical ministers Blake and Beverly Lorenz after meeting the couple on Facebook. The couple kept her whereabouts a secret from authorities.

Bary claimed her parents are radical Muslims, and that her father or radical Muslims in Ohio would kill her for converting to Christianity. (Authorities in Florida and Ohio later investigated such fears and concluded they were unfounded.)

Authorities discovered Bary in August. They took her away from the Lorenzes and placed her with foster families in the Orlando area.

Her parents demanded she be returned to their custody. Many conservative Christians -- usually strong supporters of parental rights -- took up the girl's cause. They held demonstrations and flooded Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's office with letters and e-mails.

Circuit Court Judge Daniel Lawson ordered Bary back to Ohio in October. However, she remained in foster care while the legal fight dragged on.

One of Bary's lawyers tells the Sentinel that the girl and her parents eventually reached an understanding.

Mohamed and Aysha Bary tell United Press International they accept their daughter's religious conversion.

"Rifqa and her parents love and respect each other and believe that further counseling for all parties is the healthy and best means of resolving the issues," the lawyer said in court Tuesday.

Related: What Happened When My Family Got Religion Overnight

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