New Details Emerge in Christian Convert Case

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A teenager who said she fled from Ohio to Florida to save her life will remain in Florida state custody a while longer as a judge called for further investigation of the case.

Rifqa Bary claims that after her Muslim father learned of her conversion to Christianit, he threatened her life.

CBN News has new details on her story, including a court petition with harsh claims against her family and an Ohio Muslim community.

Just before a judge ruled Bary would remain in Florida, the 17-year-old girl asked to speak.
    
She told the court why she ran away from her Ohio home a few months ago and about the threats she faced because she left Islam.     

"I've been a Christian for four years of my life," Bary said. "I love my parents, but I am in fear of my life because of the past abuse. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I am a Christian, a believer."

Some of the alleged abuse is outlined in the court petition.
    
In one incident, Bary said her father snatched her laptop, hit her with it, and waved it over her head yelling, "If you have Jesus in your heart you are dead to me. You are not my daughter. I will kill you."
   
Rifqa tearfully repeated those words for reporters several weeks ago.

"They have to kill me," she said. "My blood is now halal, which means - because I am now a Christian, I'm from a Muslim background - it's an honor. If they love God more than me, they have to do this."
    
Bary took a bus to Florida where she was taken in by the family of an evangelical pastor whom she first met on the social networking site Facebook.
   
Bary's parents claim the pastor brainwashed their daughter. However, a close friend of Rifqa's who spoke to CBN News by telephone said otherwise.

"I was very curious as to how she came to now Jesus and she shared that story with me," Jamal Jivanjee said. "And then she shared the fear, the daily fear that she lives in of being a Christian in her home. And so it was sobering."

Jivanjee, who also converted from Islam to Christianity, met Bary in Ohio more than a year ago. He was also in the Florida courtroom Friday.

"I've seen, I have actually got a chance to travel to the Middle East some," Jivanjee said. "I have heard about these stories in places like Iraq and places like Jordan and Egypt. But I have never seen it here in the United States like I saw it in Rifqa. And to believe that it was happening in Columbus, Ohio, where I am from, I would have never guessed it. But it was real. I saw the fear in her."

The judge has asked Florida's Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the Muslim community in Columbus, Ohio, where Bary's family lives.
    
The court petition raised concerns about the mosque Bary's parents attend, because the Noor Islamic Cultural Center has reported ties to terrorism.

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.