Judge: Bary's Immigration Papers Must be Produced

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Rifqa Bary, the Ohio runaway who converted from Islam to Christianity, has been ordered back to Ohio by a Florida judge.

However, new concerns about her missing immigration papers could keep Bary in Florida a little longer.

Regent University family law professor Lynne Marie Kohm appeared on Wednesday's edition of the CBN Newschannel Morning program to discuss the Bary case.  Click play to watch the CBN News reports from Orlando and Columbus and Kohm's interview.

Dramatic Day in Court 

Tuesday was dramatic day in the case of the teenage runaway. Orlando judge Daniel Dawson agreed with an Ohio judge that Bary should be sent back to Ohio almost immediately. But then it was discovered that her immigration papers still had not been sent by her parents. That brought into question whether she was actually in the U.S. legally. Her attorney argued that if she is here illegally, that could put her in imminent danger of being sent back to her home country of Sri Lanka.

"The reason that Rifqa left is, because her parents threatened to send her back to Sri Lanka and this is the issue that nobody wants to talk about but apostate killing is a very real thing," John Stemberger, Bary's attorney told the court.

"Objection judge," Bary's parents attorney interrupted. "At this point we are going into the anti-Muslim bias that's been basically dragging this through the last three months already."

"I note your objection, let him finish," Judge Dawson replied.

"It's a very real thing. If she's sent back to Sri Lanka, it's probably the place she's most at risk of being killed or harmed or put in an insane asylum. And so this immigration issue is very, very critical," Stemberger argued.

The judge agreed saying he had grave concerns as to why those documents, including passports, visas and other information, had not been supplied to the court when they'd been ordered months ago.

Judge Tired of Excuses, Gives Parents 10 Days to Produce Papers

When the attorney for the parents offered excuses, the judge stopped him short.

"Stop! Unless you want to be held in contempt and go out the other you need to stop and listen to the court," Dawson said. "All I want to know is how soon can you get the immigration paper work to the court and to Gal, period. I don't care about who set up trust funds. My motives are I want the immigration information. I ordered the immigration information and you and your client didn't supply. I want it, I need it. I want it before this child leaves Florida," he continued.

The judge ordered the immigration documents be sent within 10 working days -- or the parents will be held in contempt of court. He also ordered the virtual schooling she's been receiving in Florida continue in Ohio.

Friends and supporters of Bary are thrilled she'll be staying in Florida a little longer than expected. Many believe she is still safer in The Sunshine State than in Ohio. But Bary has told close friends whatever her fate, she's ready.

"Right before Rifqa fled Ohio, she said, 'Pray for me that I would not deny Jesus Christ in the face of death.' She's one of the few in this country that have had to look death in the face and she's prepared for it," said Jamal Jivanjee.

Bary's Ohio Friends Not Happy with Judge's Decision

Meanwhile in Bary's hometown of Columbus, Ohio, attorneys for both sides are under a gag order and cannot speak to the media. But Bary's friends are talking and they aren't happy.

"It would be best if she stayed in Florida," said Bary friend Robert Ng.

He lives about a mile from Bary's home. The young Christians met less than a year ago, attended prayer meetings together, and talked nearly every day until she ran away more than two months ago.

"I have skyped her while she is in Florida," Ng said. "She is still on Facebook under her name. So I message her there."

Ng said he has also prayed with Bary and talked about the possibility of her return to Columbus, even before Tuesdays court ruling.

"Talking to her before today, she kind of knew that she would have to," Ng explained. "She prayed that she wouldn't, but she got the feeling that she would be coming back."

"Do you think she is worried about coming back?," CBN News asked Ng.

"I wouldn't use the word 'worry,'" he answered. "But I think she knows coming back here is more dangerous than her staying Florida."

Columbus Mosque Members Say Bary Has Nothing to Fear  

It is a fear that members of the Noor Islamic Center, a Columbus mosque, have called unwarranted.

"When you see the excerpts with her about the interview, and how she claims things, she is very passionate," said the mosque's Adnan Mirza. "You can definitely sense that she is scared. But the reasons for this, those are the things we are completely dumbfounded on. We have no idea where those things are coming from."

For now, the courts are siding with Bary's parents and members of the Islamic community. Even though a Florida judge ordered Bary return to Ohio, it won't happen overnight. There are still a number issues that need to be resolved. Another hearing is scheduled for October 27, at Franklin County Juvenile Court in Columbus.

*Originally aired October 14, 2009. 

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