There is a great editorial in the Fairfield County Weekly that highlights some of the obfuscation and outright prejudice that has resulted from the Fathima Rifqa Bary case. The girl who ran away from her house in Ohio and joined a Christian pastor’s family in Florida and is now being held in foster care until a judge can ascertain whether or not she should be returned home. She has made serious allegations against her family that they will kill her if she is returned to them.
The article points out some logical fallacies that many in the right wing propaganda media have been perpetuating such as the one from loony blogger Pamela Geller who says that according to a secret “source” of hers, she knows that Fathima’s father has forced her to wear hijab. How does this jibe with the fact that her father also allowed her to be a cheerleader? Or the fact that there isn’t one picture of her on the internet when she is with family or not where she is wearing a hijab?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Rifqa Bary says that if she’s sent back to Ohio her father Mohamed will kill her. The 17-year-old, whose family immigrated from Sri Lanka, says she converted to Christianity from Islam four years ago, having picked up the religion from friends at school where she’s an honors student and cheerleader. This led to four years of beatings from her father and brothers, according the right-wing blogs salivating over Rifqa’s story.
“Beatings were random, violent, unprovoked,” writes Pamela Geller, the “citizen journalist, citizen soldier” who runs the site Atlas Shrugs. “Take, for example, when Rifqa and her father Mohammad [sic] were driving in the car. He would force her to wear the hijab, which she hated. In her discomfort she would slouch down, embarrassed, and her father would haul off and sock her in the face so that she never forgot to sit up straight in her costume.” Finally, her father told her he’d kill her for shaming the family, the teen says.
So Rifqa met a husband-and-wife Christian ministry team on Facebook, ran away from home and rode a Greyhound to their doorstep. Luckily, they live in Florida, a state where no dispute can ever be handled quickly or sensibly. (Elián González, Terry Schiavo, the 2000 recount.) She is now in foster care and a Florida juvenile court is deciding whether or not to send her back to Ohio.
Newsmax, WorldNetDaily and other conservative news sources have dedicated a lot of bandwidth to this story. Faux News is the most reliable national news source to more than glimpse at it, and only the Columbus Dispatch and Orlando Sentinel are dealing out real information.
This may be why no one has realized this story is full of holes. (Most of these people haven’t even noticed the Book of Genesis is full of holes.)
Mohamed Bary, a jeweler, beats his daughter for being embarrassed at wearing a hijab but also lets her prance around in a cheerleading uniform before a crowd every Friday night? We’ve never even seen a picture of Rifqa Bary in a hijab; in the myriad pictures floating around the Internet, she’s in typical Gap-ish clothing. She also had very unrestricted Facebook access for someone living in tyranny. She says she was at the bottom of a family dogpile for four years, but neither school officials in Ohio or the DCF agents in Florida have found as much as a bruise. The chief of the Columbus police missing persons bureau said Mr. Bary “comes across to me a loving, caring, worried father about the whereabouts and the health of his daughter.”
Christian crusaders haven’t dug up any dirt on Mr. Bary. They note a radical cleric and members of a terrorist cell have passed through Columbus area mosques and that a similar “honor killing” happened in Dallas — in other words, They’re all the same! They cite not the Koran but interpretations of Islamic law saying Bary would have to kill his daughter. Good thing she is not coming back to a family of Christians; their holy book says rebellious teens should be stoned (Deut. 21:18-21).
Clearly, this is not about Mohamed Bary; it’s about Islam and continuing irrational prejudice against it.
Rifqa Bary may not be lying exactly — the repressed memory fad proved confused people can come to believe terrible things about their families — but her story only adds up if you assume all Muslim men are secretly savages sworn to kill the infidel.
This is how the rabid right operates. Disregarding evidence or common sense, they follow the story line that makes sense to them — be it that Democrats are overhauling health care to implement “death panels” or that an ethnically complicated liberal in the White House must be a Kenyan citizen at the heart of a Dan Brown–sized conspiracy.
Here’s where this kind of thinking (of lack thereof) can lead us: The law-abiding Bary family is worried, reunion or no, it may have to return to Sri Lanka because of all the negative attention. So because of right-wing paranoia, a family may actually leave the U.S. because of religious persecution.