Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The image of a man convicted of killing 270 Americans and other innocent civilians receiving a hero’s welcome last week at an airport in Libya was at once appalling and infuriating. Unless something permanent is done in the near future, however, the culture that promotes such behavior may soon be exulting over the “honor killing” of a young woman in America.

The young woman in question is Rifqa Bary, a 17-year-old from a family of Sri Lankan expatriates who are part of a Muslim community near Columbus, Ohio, that is dominated by the Noor Islamic Cultural Center. This mosque is renowned for its adherence to the brutally intolerant and repressive theo-political-religious program authoritative Islam calls Shariah. In fact, counterterrorism expert Patrick Poole has described the Noor Center as “the premier source of Islamic extremism” in central Ohio.

According to Shariah, it is impermissible to leave the faith: Those who convert are said to have engaged in apostasy, a capital offense. As Rifqa says she embraced Christianity four years ago, she is — in the words of Tom Trento, a formidable anti-Shariah activist who runs the Florida Security Council — a “dead girl walking.”

Pamela Geller’s terrific Web site, AtlasShrugs, reports that Rifqa was brutalized by family members even before they discovered she had converted. When the family learned, apparently from others associated with the Noor mosque, that the girl was an “apostate,” she says, quoting Rifqa, Rifqa’s father erupted: “If you have this Jesus in your heart, you’re dead to me. You’re not my daughter. I will kill you.”

Well aware of the tradition of honor killing, particularly of females by Shariah-adherent Muslim family members, Rifqa fled Ohio via a 23-hour bus ride to Florida. There she found refuge with two pastors, Blake and Beverly Lorenz, whom she had met via Facebook. When Rifqa’s family discovered her whereabouts, they began proceedings in juvenile court in Orlando, Fla., to compel her to go back to Ohio.

All other things being equal, under Florida law, such a minor would be surrendered to her home state unless the state’s governor intervened on the grounds that mitigating circumstances argued against such a course of action.

As word spread last week of Rifqa’s plight — and the prospect that her return to Ohio could be a death sentence — there was an outpouring of sympathy in the state and around the nation. Suddenly, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was inundated with appeals on behalf of a young woman who merely had sought to enjoy her inalienable rights in America of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and, not least, the right to practice her Christian faith freely and safely.

Pressure mounted further as the majority leader of the Florida House of Representatives, Rep. Adam Hasner, worked with the state’s Department of Children and Families and Attorney General Bill McCollum to ascertain the danger to which Rifqa could be exposed if she were relinquished by Florida authorities. Mr. Trento’s Florida Security Council and Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! for America mobilized concerned citizens both locally and across America to prevent a potentially fatal miscarriage of justice.

Shortly before Circuit Judge Daniel P. Dawson was to convene a hearing Friday afternoon to rule on the Bary family’s motion to force Rifqa’s effective extradition to Ohio, Mr. Crist’s office wrote to her supporters. The letter said in part that he “will make a decision that is in the best interests of and ensures the continued health, safety and welfare of Ms. Rifqa Bary.” George Sheldon, secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, took the unprecedented step of attending the hearing in person and was present when Judge Dawson agreed that Rifqa should stay in the state for at least the next 90 days.

During that period, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is to conduct an investigation of the Noor mosque and the danger Rifqa might face if she is returned to that community. The court is expected to hold further hearings on a number of motions brought by the various parties to this drama.

What is clear at this point, though, is that Rifqa Bary has received but a stay — perhaps literally — of execution. It is a safe bet that the court will be subjected in the coming days to a countercampaign by her parents’ friends and supporters. Already, according to blogger Dr. Rusty Shakleford (https://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/198547.php), a source who infiltrated a strategy session convened by the Muslim Brotherhood-associated Council on American Islamic Relations, reported that CAIR “handed out copies of [a recent] Orlando Sentinel article [that was critical of Rifqa] and want supporters to push the meme that Christians have brainwashed and abducted this gullible teenage girl. They also have instructed supporters to circulate rumors that Rifqa had been carousing with infidel boys and engaged in acts of immorality. This CAIR strategy takes the focus off the near-universal Islamic legal precepts and Quranic injunctions that demand death for apostates and impugns the character of the innocent girl at the center of this controversy who appears to be in genuine fear for her life if she is returned to her parents.”

Let us be clear: Rifqa Bary is a proverbial “canary in the mine shaft,” a warning to all of us that toxic Shariah is leeching into America. Every effort must be made to ensure that her freedoms — and, inevitably, ours — are permanently protected against this deadly assault.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated “Secure Freedom Radio.”

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