Rifqa Bary to Stay in Foster Care for Christmas

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After attending her first court hearing in Ohio, Tuesday, it looks like Rifqa Bary will be spend Christmas in foster care.

This was 17-year-old Christian convert's first time before a judge in her home state since running away to Florida in fear that her Muslim parents would kill her for converting to Christianity.

Dozens rallied outside the court rrom to show support for Bary back in November, and many returned for for this hearing.

Jamal Jivanjee -- a close personal friend to Bary who also converted from Islam to Christianity-- was allowed in the courtroom.

"She was very thankful. She was able to give me a hug at the end of the hearing," he said. "She was very full of joy, yet I could see she was very concerned."

Concern for Bary began pouring in from Christians around the world after her story made international headlines in July.

She fled Ohio for Forida in fear she could be hurt, or even killed, by her parents for leaving Islam. It's a fear Nabil Qureshi also remembers feeling after he left the Muslim faith.

"This is a girl's life and if you are going to err on the side of safety, you should err on the side of saving and preserving her life," she said. "It seems like we are erring on the side of not offending the sensitivity of Muslims."

Bary's friends find comfort knowing she will remain in foster care in Columbus -- at least until she returns to court Jan. 19.

"I am happy that she is still in foster care because she is still being protected from the threat, which was coming from her family, the threat of being taken out of the country," Jivanjee said. "So she is still here and she is still being protected. That is a good thing."

Still, friends and supporters are a bit troubled by the timing of this latest hearing.

Supporters have been sending her Christmas cards from around the world.

Bary had not been allowed to see those cards because of a ban on third party communications, but the judge also lifted that ban Tuesday

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