Thank you all for your prayers. It is truly God’s grace that this went so well today. Many were saying it couldn’t/wouldn’t happen this way. But things change, because prayer is a force of Light, as are actions of care and mercy for the vulnerable.
John Stemberg, an attorney representing the teen, said, “What occurred today was an amazing victory for Rifqa and an amazing victory for religious liberty and freedom in America.
Please continue your prayers, but know that this was a very important hurdle today. Such things have momentum, and it feels that the dark force behind this has been given notice, similarly to how Jesus said, commandingly, “Get thee behind me, satan!”
No matter how you slice it – “honor killing” (or the threat or implication thereof) of an innocent young girl for any reason, and especially because she loves God in her own chosen way, is a form of the greatest darkness.
Judge Dawson says “at first blush” it appears his court has jurisdiction in this custody matter, since no Ohio court has taken up the matter. The judge says he’s inclined to refer this matter to mediation and keep this matter in his court.
A representative from Florida Department of Children and Families has told the court that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has agreed to investigate the matter, because DCF fears she is in danger.
A legal representative for Rifqa says since Ohio has no prior legal proceeding in this case, then Florida can claim jurisdiction. Staying in Florida, her legal team argues, would keep her safe. Judge Dawson said he has had no contact with Ohio courts, so he doesn’t know if Ohio wants jurisdiction in this case.
“Rifqa wants to be here,” said one of her lawyers.
He told he court the teen’s safety would be compromised back in Ohio, referring to some ‘terrorist activity’ in the region where she lived. He did not elaborate.
Judge Dawson asked if Rifqa is a legal immigrant. She was born in Sri Lanka. Her attorneys say they are trying to determine that and need the parents’ cooperation. Her father, Mohammed, said she arrived in the U.S. on a visa. Since she has turned 17, her legal status is in question.
update: A hearing is set for September 3rd at 2:30 p.m. A dependency petition will be argued at that time.
Rifqa in the court today:
Rafqa’s statement to the court: “I’ve been a christian for 4 years of my life. I love my parents but I am in fear of my life because of the past abuse. I assure your honor Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I am a Christian, a believer.”
Also, Rifqa will spend some time with her younger brothers, but does not want to meet with her parents at this time.
Rifqa is staying in a foster home. Her foster parents are not willing to allow supervised visitation of Rifqa’s family or friends right now. The judge is recommending DCF take charge of the issue and hold these meetings in an outside location where it can be videotaped.
From Rifqa’s friends and teachers:
One of Rifqa’s out of state friends used to talk to Rifqa frequently on the phone. She said they had to use code words (that they had established earlier) when talking about Christianity so her parents would not know what she was saying on the phone.
A police officer involved in this case from Columbus, said that he had talked to 20 people, and almost all 20 said she was in fear for her life.
And one of Rifqa’s teachers said she knew Rifqa’s life was in danger, but became very frightened when told by the school to “stay out of this”…
This e-mail form the Florida Governor’s office arrived later today, after the hearing:
Governor Crist today expressed his gratefulness to Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson for his decision to grant Fathima Rifqa Bary the right to remain in Florida. In this case, the first and only priority of Governor Crist’s administration is the safety and wellbeing of this child. The Governor also expressed gratitude for the good work of Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon and his General Counsel, Rob Wheeler, for personally advocating the administration’s position by attending today’s hearing.
Please be assured Governor Crist will continue to fight to protect Ms.
Rifqa Bary’s safety and wellbeing as this case moves forward.