A Florida court puts a teenage girl's life at risk.
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Pamela Geller, founder, editor and publisher of the popular and award-winning weblog AtlasShrugs.com. She has won acclaim for her interviews with internationally renowned figures, including John Bolton, Geert Wilders, Bat Ye'or, Natan Sharansky, and many others, and has broken numerous important stories -- notably the questionable sources of some of the financing of the Obama campaign. Her op-eds have been published in The Washington Times, The American Thinker, Israel National News, Frontpage Magazine, World Net Daily, and New Media Journal, among other publications.
FP: Pamela Geller, welcome back to Frontpage Interview.
Rifqa Bary is being sent back to Ohio. You have been following the developments. Tell us what is going on and what it means.
Geller: Rifqa Bary is a teenage apostate. She escaped her devout Muslim home when her parents were advised by members of their extremist mosque that Rifqa had converted to Christianity.
Rifqa Bary's father threatened to kill her if "she had this Jesus" in her heart. And so she ran away to Florida, as far away as she could get, and stayed with sympathetic Christians. She has since been placed in foster care, and the battle rages on to get this young woman to return to her devout Muslim family and Muslim community. Having spoken to many apostates in the States, living as a Christian in a devout Muslim household is not an option, despite her father's dubious assertions.
FP: So what happened in court?
Geller: There were key developments in Judge Daniel Dawson's juvenile court yesterday. It was a bizarre scene. Ohio started their own proceedings to get Rifqa back when they lost jurisdiction two months back. So two courts met at the same time on the same matter; both listening to each other's statements via audio link. Both judges were deciding the case of whether Rifqa Bary goes back to Ohio. To say this was unusual is understatemen.
The upshot is that Ohio has jurisdiction and the Florida court maintains emergency jurisdiction at least until the 27h of October. The law is clear on this.
FP: Is Rifqa safe in Ohio?
Geller: No, I do not believe she is. As soon as she ran away, Ohio law enforcement dismissed her charges of abuse -- before they had even conducted an investigation. A month ago, Ohio Governor Strickland publicly stated that he wanted Rifqa back in Ohio. Strickland has been a supporter of CAIR. Not surprising, as he has been on the receiving end of substantial dollars from the Muslim community. CAIR is very involved in the case. They are advising Mohamed and Aysha Bary (Rifqa's parents). The Muslim community and particularly the Noor Mosque, will not be warm to such a vocal apostate. Imagine the psychological abuse for a 17 year old girl upon her return. 75 pound Rfqa vs the Islamic machine. David meets Goliath.
The media refuses to discuss apostasy, but the motive behind the threat is apostasy. It is verboten in the court room.
There is an upside. The parents have been very dodgy, dishonest even, on their immigration status. Time and time again they have ignored court orders to produce copies of their immigration documents. This is a key issue, because when Rifqa ran away, her mother had packed all of the family's belongings and said they were going back to Sri Lanka. This is what I believe the family, the community, CAIR, and the Islamic machine really wants: to get Rifqa back to Sri Lanka.
I asked an apostate from Sri Lanka who showed up at the hearing yesterday to provide moral support for Rifqa, if Rifqa would be safe in Sri Lanka (not a Muslim majority country). She said,
"No. She will die, she will die in her society. Society won't leave her alone. Even if the family, Mother and Father has a little sympathy, but not society, society is worse because she has gone too far. The society will never leave the family in peace. They have to take a stand for this, because it is the shame. Rifqa has brought a shame for their religion and for their society."
The judge is aware of this, because he ruled he would not release Rifqa until the family's immigration documents were submitted to the court. Then Mohamed Bary's lawyer, belligerent and rude, made all sorts of wild accusations. He alleged that John Stemberger (Rifqa's lawyer) was going to kidnap Rifqa and "squirrel her out of the country". When in fact that appears to be the Islamic plan, but that is typical: blame it on "right wing extremists" or "anti-Muslim bigots". Hence the insane accusations in the court room. But the bottom line is Rifqa will not leave Florida until the immigration papers are filed. And the Bary lawyer has been threatened with contempt should he not produce them.
This is a tinderbox. But for now, Rifqa is safe in Florida. If the issue is not resolved by the end of October, a judicial review has been tentatively scheduled for November 10. I do not believe the parents will provide the documents. And then? Stay tuned.
FP: What are the possibilities if the parents do not provide the documents?
Geller: It's anyone's guess. The whole family could be deported. The risk to Rifqa's life is considerable. The sooner Rifqa's defense team has the documents, the sooner her status can be addressed. There are several different approaches to securing her safety. A person seeking asylum may do so from inside the US and does not have to leave and petition for re-entry. That is the advantage. Religious asylum is seldom granted though. Perhaps Rifqa could file a claim on a civil rights violation (a CAIR move) against her parents.
The question of jurisdiction may appear to be settled but it is not. Dawson said he doesn't plan to release her until he sees the Bary immigration documents. It will be interesting.
FP: Why do you think there is such silence about apostasy when this is actually causing the case itself? The media is saying nothing about this.
Geller: It's indicative of how sick our society has become. Spinelessness and ignorance are a lethal combination. Apostasy is the motive behind the death threat. Period. Of course the FDLE found no evidence of a threat, they did not investigate threats of a religious nature. Perhaps the upside (if there could be such a thing) to this terrible case is that the media is being exposed for their conquered, dhimmi approach to the story. And that is why new media/alternative reporting was so critical to this story.
FP: Overall, what do you think this case has signified? What has been its meaning? What have your own impressions been?
Geller: This is a landmark case on so many levels. The obvious is the media's auto-censorship. Their bias is so fixed that they would rather put a teenage girl's life at risk than report the story. Why wouldn't they err on the side of caution? What is Rifqa Bary so terrified of? The media's indifference is devastating.
It's the proverbial teaching moment. Why isn’t the media giving Wafa Sultan, Ibn Warraq, Nonie Darwish and any of the thousands of apostates living in the shadows, front page exposure in the media, to help push back, push Islamic supremacism back to the fringe of civilization?
Further, this case pits Sharia law and its absolutism against the rule of law in America. If we turn a blind eye to the execution of sharia law in our society, is that not our sanction? Are we not complicit if we are not vigilant?
The silence of the media, pundits, law enforcement, psychologists, the court system renders the girls, the women, the men murdered in the name of Islam nothing more than a rumor. They are invisible and count for nothing. It speaks volumes to the West's respect and sanctity of life.
The larger picture is the clash of civilizations, a clash of human systems. The battle is for our very soul.
President Obama addressed the Muslim world in June from Al Ahzar University in Cairo where a fatwa (death penalty) was issued for apostasy. The President described Al Azhar. this way: "For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement.”
In that same speech Obama declared, "....the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it."
Well, what about the right of women and girls not to wear the hijab?
America is the greatest, the noblest, and in its original founding principles, the first and last moral country (save Israel) in the history of the world - what happened?
FP: What can we do to help Rifka?
Geller: Call, write, fax, snail mail, Governor Charlie Crist, gently persuasively. Every day.
Governor Charlie Crist's office:
Phone: (850) 488-4441, (850) 488-7146.
Fax: (850) 487-0801
Email: [email protected]
FP: Pamela Geller, thank you for joining us.
Editor's note: Watch scholar Robert Spencer discuss Rifqa's case on Fox and Friends: