By Robert Spencer
Salam al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a thoroughly unpleasant character with whom I have appeared on many radio shows (on which he invariably likens me to Osama bin Laden, although I have never flown any planes into buildings, beheaded anyone, or exhorted anyone to do so), attacks Rifqa Bary, the seventeen-year-old girl who converted from Islam to Christianity and fled from her home and father after he threatened to kill her (as she explains here), and her supporters in a contemptuous, dishonest, condescending and arrogant piece at the Huffington Post, "Rifqa, the Reverand [sic] and Apostasy" (August 18).
Al-Marayati is intent on impugning Rifqa's own testimony in favor of her father's protestations that he does not intend to kill her -- and indeed, it is her word against his, and the only price we will have to pay if al-Marayati turns out to be wrong is a murdered teenage girl. To support his case, al-Marayati makes essentially two points, both encapsulated in this sentence: "Mohamed Bary allowed his daughter to become a cheerleader and says she can practice any faith she wants -- clearly, he is not a fundamentalist."
His first point is thus that Mohamed Bary, by allowing his daughter to prance around in skimpy cheerleader costumes, clearly was not the sort to insist on the finer points of Islamic law like the death penalty for apostasy (which al-Marayati implies does not exist anyway, so it's hard to see why it would be a feature of "fundamentalism" in the first place). However, honor killing victims in the West have invariably been girls who have been Westernized, adopting Western non-Muslim mores to the growing dismay of their male relatives. Al-Marayati's point is that if Mohamed Bary were a "fundamentalist," he would not have allowed Rifqa to become Westernized in the first place. Real life, however, is not always that simple. Honor killing victims like Amina and Sarah Said in Texas and Aqsa Parvez in Canada appear to been quite Westernized for a considerable period before their relationships with their fathers reached a tipping point, and they were murdered. Rifqa Bary fled before that could happen, but the fact that she was a hijab-less cheerleader indicates nothing.