Posted Aug 21, 2009 07:48 pm CDT
Updated: Supporters of a 17-year-old runaway gathered in and around a central Florida courthouse today in anticipation of a hearing this afternoon at which an Orlando juvenile court judge is expected to decide whether to send Rifqa Bary back home to Ohio.
Bary says she took a bus to Florida because she fears that she will be the victim of a so-called honor killing if she stays with her Muslim family because of her recent conversion to Christianity, reports the St. Petersburg Times.
Her parents are seeking their daughter’s return, saying that they love her and intend her no harm and will allow her to practice her new religion. If the Orlando judge finds that an Ohio court has jurisdiction, it appears likely that she may be put in foster care there for 30 days. She is presently in temporary foster care in Florida.
The high-profile child custody case has generated calls for state lawmakers to help Bary, and Adam Hasner, the majority leader of the state house of representatives, issued a written statement urging the court to retain jurisdiction in Florida to make sure she is safe.
After this ABAJournal.com post was initially published, Judge Daniel Dawson decided to retain jurisdiction in the case. He ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the teen’s abuse allegations against her family, and also plans to get the family into mediation, starting in September, to try to work out a custody arrangement without a full trial.
ABC News: “Muslim Parents Deny Threatening Daughter With Honor Killing Over Christianity”
WDBO: “Blog from Juvenile Court: Rifqa Bary hearing”
Updated at 5:45 p.m. to accord with updated St. Petersburg Times coverage.