Christian Girl to Stay in FL, Parents Stand by Story

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A Florida judge decided Thursday that a Christian girl who fled to the state to escape her Muslim parents can remain there until further notice.

Circuit Court Judge Daniel Dawson said 17-year-old Rifqa Bary can remain with a foster family in Florida until a decision on her case is reached after a court-ordered mediation.

Bary says she ran away from her home in Ohio after her family threatened to kill her for converting from Islam to Christianity. Her parents have denied the claims and say they just want their daughter to return home.

A pretrial hearing has been set for Sept. 28 though Dawson made it clear he would rather the case not be handled in a courtroom.

Click play to watch the latest CBN News report.  Also, watch earlier analysis here with CBN News Senior Reporter Wendy Griffith, who's in Florida covering the case.

The Barys say they love their daughter but she has maintained that her parents want her dead for converting from Islam to Christianity.

"They have to do this. I'm fighting for my life," Bary cried.  "You guys don't understand. They don't understand!"

But Mohamed Bary, Rifqa's father, says that will never happen.

"She is free to practice whatever she believes in. No problem. She can practice in my house.  I have no problem," he said.  "We love her. It's our daughter. She being a Christian doesn't mean she's not my daughter."

In an interview with ABC News, the Bary's continue to blame the situation on Florida Christian couple Blake Lorenz and his wife Beverly for brainwashing their daughter.

In July, Rifqa Bary found refuge with the Lorenz's, who pastor a church in central Florida. She escaped from her home in Ohio after she says her Muslim father threatened to kill her for dishonoring the family. 

She found the Christian couple on Facebook.

Mohamed Bary has called the Lorenz's church a "cult group" and has accused them of kidnapping his daughter.

"Basically they want her to be separated from us," he claimed.

For now, Rifqa's mom, Aysha Bary, just wants her daughter back home.

"We love her. We miss her every single day. We need her back home," she said, adding that she thinks her daughter is making the story up.

Yet, those who decide to walk away from Islam do so under real danger.

Ergun Caner converted to Christianity when he was 16 and has paid a price ever since.

"My father disowned us, disowned me and then my brothers later, and did so as an act of mercy," he recalled.  "He did so because he believed that he knew what would face us if we went back to our home country.  And so, the easier path, the more merciful path was to simply disown us."

According to Islamic law, any Muslim who rejects the faith commits apostasy and is punishable by death.

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