Monday, 31 August 2009

Should Rifqa be sent back to Ohio?

The case of a young girl called Rifqa Bary has been much in the media.  Should she be sent back to Ohio?  There are some who say that no matter what you've done, being sent to Ohio would constitute "cruel and unusual punishment".  Hmmm..... anyway, should she be sent back home to her family?  You decide….
She’s a 17 year old from Ohio, her parents from Sri Lanka, came to the US about 10 years ago.  Rifqa converted to Christianity four years ago, without telling her Sunni parents.  When the father found out, he threatened to kill her (says Rifqa: because of the Islamic laws on apostasy) and so she ran away to Florida, and is now in the care of a Christian group.  The father wants her back, says he loves her and she can follow any religion she wants. 
Public concern was voiced.  The Florida governor ruled that she is to stay in Florida until an investigation can be made into the family’s circumstances.
Muslim and some non-Muslim commentators say she should be sent back to her family. Others say she should be left where she’s safe from the possibility of another “honour killing” at the hands of her male relatives.
What’s fair to say:
For now, it’s still a “she says, he says” situation.
What’s not fair to say:
That the father has “good will” (the Ohio police) and that he’s “not a fundamentalist” (Salam al-Marayati, refs below).  How do they know?  If they’re wrong, the penalty is Rifqa’s life.
It seems to me that while there’s any doubt, she has to stay where she is.
Meantime, the case has raised –  yet again –  the issue of apostasy in Islam and the penalty for it.  There is no death penalty for apostasy says al-Marayati.  “no it’s not [in the Koran], sweet little Rifqa”, says al-Marayati. "...sweet little Rifqa" (!!).  shudder... and ... ugh….
Al-Marayati is plain wrong.   The penalty for apostasy in Sunni Islam is death.  Many commentators on the Huffington site have pointed this out.  I would add the mandate from the Classic Manual of Islamic law the ‘Umdat al-Salik, o.8.1:
When a person … apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed”. 
And apostates have been killed, most recently and most often in Pakistan.   Islam is the only religion that had and still has laws mandating the death for those who wish to leave it.
Interestingly, the comments on the Huffingon Post, which is a left-of-centre site, are solidly against the tenor of al-Marayati’s piece and point out the juridical and religious grounds for the death penalty for apostasy in Islam. 
1.    Rifqa Bary.   YouTube, 11 August 09.
4.    Rifqa, the Reverand [sic] and Apostasy,  Salam al-Marayati, Huffington Post, 18 August 2009
3.    Anti-Muslim bias in Fathima Rifqa Bary case.  Mike Thomas, Orlando Sentinel, 23 August 2009
4.    Media Distort Facts of Threatened Muslim Girl Story, Pamela Geller, Newsmax, 24 August 2009
5.    “Apostasy” and Wafa Sultan’s exchange….  Andrew Bostom, JihadWatch, 30 August 2009.