Ohio governor on Rifqa Bary case: "We have no reason to believe that she would be unsafe in Ohio"
Even if the sheer level of public attention deters Rifqa's father and like-minded supporters from harming her or taking her out of the country -- and blindly hoping for that would be gambling with her life -- this is case has larger implications in the precedent it will set, possibly discouraging children like her from pursuing their right to freedom of conscience.
"Ohio governor says converted teen should be sent back home from Florida," by Rene Stutzman for the Orlando Sentinel, September 11:
The office of Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland issued a statement saying the teenage girl who ran away from her Muslim home in Ohio to evangelical Christians in Orlando, Fla., should be returned to her home state.
"Child welfare agencies and authorities in Ohio and Franklin County are fully capable of providing for the security and well-being of Ohio's children," the statement said. "The governor believes this is a family matter and therefore would most appropriately be handled here in Ohio with the assistance of the child welfare and foster care system."
Fathima Rifqa Bary, 17, is living with a foster family in the Orlando area. She fled Westerville, Ohio, aboard a Greyhound bus in July, saying her father had threatened to kill her because she had abandoned his faith - Islam - and become a Christian. [...]
Amanda Wurst, a spokeswoman for Strickland, issued the statement Thursday. It puts Strickland, an ordained Methodist minister, at odds with Florida's Gov. Charlie Crist.
In a statement issued three weeks ago, Crist said he was grateful for a decision by Orange Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson to keep Rifqa in Florida.
Earlier that day, Crist had sent two powerful figures - Rob Wheeler, his top lawyer, and George Sheldon, secretary for the Florida Department of Children and Families - to a hearing at which the judge ruled Rifqa should stay in Florida, at least temporarily.
"We'll continue to fight to protect Rifqa's safety and well-being as we move forward," said Crist in his statement.
Rifqa's story has set off a firestorm of reaction. Crist's office reported Friday that it had received more than 10,000 e-mails about it.
Wurst said the Ohio governor's office has received more than 400 calls, e-mails and letters.
Many people have said they're sure Rifqa will be killed if she's returned to Ohio, if not by her father, then by Columbus-area Muslims who think she has dishonored her former faith.
Columbus-area law enforcement officials say there is no evidence to support that claim. Strickland's office said the same thing.