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A Slow-Motion Honor Killing
by Robert Spencer
A seventeen-year-old girl from Ohio, Rifqa Bary, fears for her life today. She is afraid that her own parents will murder her. Her father, she explains, "said he would kill me. Or he'd have me sent back to Sri Lanka where they'd put me in the asylum." Her crime in their eyes? She has converted to Christianity from Islam – bringing to the fore once again the prevalence within Islamic communities in the West of attitudes and beliefs that foster honor killings and the murder of apostates from Islam.
Rifqa has fled to Florida, where she has become the center of a bitter custody battle with her parents – and she herself is adamant that if she is forced to return to her parents, her life will be in danger: "if I had stayed in Ohio," she says flatly, "I wouldn't be alive." If she is made to return, she says, "I will die within a week. My life is at stake. My dad threatened me." Rifqa is under threat both because of Islam's apostasy law and because, as she herself explains, by converting to Christianity she has besmirched the family's honor: "in 150 generations of my family no one has known Jesus. I am the first one. Imagine the honor in killing me. There is great honor in that."
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