Rifqa Bary expected in court today

Oct 13th, 2009 | By | Category: Signs of the Times (click on article name)


Rifqa Bary expected in court today

Rifqa Bary, the Muslim-to-Christian teen convert who is at the center of a politically charged custody dispute, is expected in an Orlando courtroom today.

Amy L. Edwards

Sentinel Staff Writer

8:44 AM EDT, October 13, 2009

Fathima Rifqa Bary

Fathima Rifqa Bary

Ohio teen runaway Fathima Rifqa Bary, who has been living in Central Florida for nearly three months, is expected to be back in court this afternoon.

Lawyers in Florida and Ohio have been battling over 17-year-old Rifqa’s fate. Rifqa’s family wants her returned to the Columbus area. The teen wants to stay here.

Rifqa ran away from home in mid-July and said she feared her Muslim family would harm or kill her because she converted to Christianity. Her family said her fears are unfounded.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement didn’t find any threats.

After arriving in Orlando, Rifqa sought shelter with local husband and wife pastors she met through Facebook, and lived with their family for several weeks.

In early August, an Orange County Circuit judge ordered Rifqa be placed in custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families. She’s remained in foster care since.

One of the issues that remains unresolved is which state has jurisdiction — Florida or Ohio.

Last week, the parties involved in Rifqa’s case met for mediation.

But because juvenile records are private and mediation is not public, it’s not clear what was discussed.

Today’s hearing is slated to begin at 2:30 p.m. It isn’t publicly known what will be discussed. It also is not known if Rifqa will appear — though she has attended previous hearings.

Check back for updates.

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