Judge Orders Christian Convert to Return Home

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A Florida judge has ordered Christian teen Rifqa Bary to return to her home in Ohio, despite claims that her Muslim family has threatened to kill her.

Bary, 17, converted from Islam to Christianity and later ran away from her home in Columbus, Ohio, in fear of being the victim of an Islamic "honor killing."

Judge Daniel P. Dawson had allowed her to stay in Florida foster care until jurisdiction could be clarified. Bary's case will now go to an Ohio court within the next few weeks, assuming she can continue her education at the online Florida Virtual School and immigration papers are presented to Dawson.

There is a question of whether Bary is in the United States legally. Before she can head back to Ohio, Bary's parents, Mohamed and Aysha Bary, must produce immigration papers to the court within 10 days.

If Bary is found to be an illegal immigrant, she could be returned to her native Sri Lanka -- a move the teen said she fears even more than returning to Ohio.

Lynne Kohn, Regent University Law professor, joined CBN News to discuss the unusual nature of this dual-state case and why it has taken so long to settle on Ohio or Florida to decide Rifqa's fate. Click play to watch.

It's been more than two months since she boarded a bus and made her way to Orlando with a passionate plea for help.

"They have to kill me. My blood is now halal, which means because I am Christian and I am from a Muslim background, it is an honor if they love God more than me," she said. "They have to do this."

Bary told a Florida court she lived in fear for her life and her father threatened her after discovering she'd converted to Christianity.

Her story soon gained national attention and it surprised many.

Bary's Christian friends, however, say they've known her secret for years.

"She was scared her dad would find out. That her parents would find out," her friend Adrianna Mancillas said. "Sometimes she would talk about being afraid of going back to Sri Lanka, and being sent back."

Friends like Mancillas are now worried what will happen next.

Rifqa's parents Mohamed and Aysha Bary filed a claim against her in Ohio in an attempt to return jurisdiction to their home state.

Courts in both states convened Tuesday in a teleconference to determine which would be better suited for the case.

"What she wants is not to be separated from her family. That is not what she wants," Mancillas said. "This whole things is about her being able to to worship Jesus. She loves God. She loves her family, but above all she just wants to do His will."

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CBN News
Efrem Graham

Efrem Graham

News Anchor & Reporter

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.