2:04 pm: Transcript updated
Impromptu and on the fly, I had the good fortune to do an interview with Rifqa Bary's dear friend, Brian Williams. We were exchanging emails on facebook and he was happy to talk to me, as the media was manufacturing a dishonest, anti-Christian, anti-Rifqa narrative. Brian is a missionary and is the Pastor in Ohio who baptized Rifqa this year. He was very much a big brother to her. Williams was very aware of what Rifqa was dealing with. She lived a double life. A life of constant fear: fear of her father, her family and mosque members.
It was the mosque members who spied on her and ratted her out to her parents. According to Brian, they kept calling the house, warning Rifqa's parents to "get her under control or else". Her mother said to Rifqa, after to speaking to mosque members, "you are not my daughter" "I were to die I don't want you to come to my funeral"-- and that she would be "sent back to Sri Lanka and put into a place" for apostates.
When Rifqa Bary ran for her life and the police found religious writings among Rifqa's things, the police threatened Williams with arrest if "Rifqa did not appear in the next 24 hours". Immediately afterward he was contacted by the Kansas City police, who searched his home looking for Rifqa. The police had it wrong.
The interview is a half hour and reveals much. Rifqa's family is devout and has a deep pride in its many generations of pious Muslims. Her grandfather was an imam.
Brian also said the depiction of the father as a warm caring man is completely dishonest. The claim that the father came to the States for medical treatment of Rifqa's eye was just media propaganda. Brian explained that the family used Rifqa's medical condition to get into this country.
Does that media get any of this story? Newsweek did an article on Rifqa that broke today. It is pure evil. Truly disgusting.
It kicks off like this,
John Stemberger, a conservative Christian lawyer who was involved in the battle over Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman kept alive with a feeding tube until it was disconnected in 2005. He and various right-wing groups have unleashed a barrage of allegations against Bary's parents and a mosque they attend in Columbus, Ohio. Yet as Krista Bartholomew, Bary's guardian ad litem (appointed by the court to offer guidance on the girl's best interests), said in a hearing last Thursday, "This is not a holy war. This is a case about a frightened little girl and a broken family."
Get it? Then in describing the father:
Mohamed and Aysha Bary left Sri Lanka in 2000 with their two kids, Rifqa and an older brother, and moved to New York (their third child, a boy, was born in the United States). The reason: concern about Rifqa's well-being. As a child, she'd fallen on a toy airplane that pierced her right eye. Doctors in Sri Lanka wanted to remove the eye, prompting Mohamed to relocate the whole family so Rifqa could obtain better medical treatment. In the end, her eye was spared, though she can't see out of it. Then, in 2004, Mohamed moved the family again, this time to seek a better public education for the kids. He settled on the Columbus area, which had highly ranked schools. At New Albany High School, Rifqa excelled. She maintained a 3.5 grade-point average and became a member of the cheerleading squad.
Rifqa did not fall on a toy plane. Her brother threw a hard object at her eye and caused her blindness. And her father did not get her "better medical treatment". He used it to get to America (according to Williams). Newsweek goes on to say, "in the end her eye was spared, though she can't see out of it". Huh?
And what does Newsweek Newswrong say about apostasy? In the whole article there is one parenthetical remark. Did they interview any apostates in America and ask them about the constant threat of death they live under (ie Wafa Sultan, Nonie Darwish, Ibn Warraq)?
(Muslim scholars say that in Islam, there's no such thing as an honor killing for apostasy.)
That's it. Who did they speak to? Ibrahim Hooper?
Armaros described it this way:
No more two sides, just theirs, the victims of the right wing and only their version of the story as why they left NY, the business shenanigans etc..are not outlined from two perspectives anymore.
Then it goes into out right lies and obfuscation like this:
"Mohamed says Rifqa's behavior began to change more markedly at the beginning of this summer. She became withdrawn, barely speaking to him when they drove places together. She rejected the company of her little brother, with whom she'd always been affectionate. She would stay up late, reading her Bible on the balcony. Aysha also found books in the girl's room that she found troubling, like Is the Injeel Corrupted? (Its author, Fouad Masri, believes that "radical Islam is a reflection of a spiritual thirst that can only be quenched through the teachings and the life of Christ," according to one of his press releases.) Moreover, Rifqa was constantly on Facebook, interacting with people her parents had no clue about. "We were worried," says Mohamed...
...Once Bary's case became public, numerous Christian conservatives fanned the flames. "This conflict between Islam and Christianity is going to grow greater," said Blake Lorenz, according to the St. Petersburg Times. "This conflict between good and evil is going to grow greater." Stemberger, Bary's lawyer, filed a 33-page memorandum in her case that's filled with innuendo and provocative allegations against the Noor Center, the mosque that the Barys occasionally attend (on a conference call with reporters, Stemberger insisted that the accusations have been "documented extensively"). Among them: that the center is connected to an FBI terror probe (which the FBI denies) (there was no terror probe there were terror probes of individuals who preached there) and that its CEO has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood (which, along with every other allegation, the Noor Center denies). The mosque is actually regarded as mainstream and regularly hosts interfaith events. "Unfortunately, hate groups appear to be using this family matter as an opportunity to attack the Muslim community and Islamic organizations in order to further their religious and political goals," the center said in a statement.
So notice the Alinsky takkiya again. There are two supposed allegations: FBI probe and Noor CEO-MB connection.
But one is misrepresented on purpose to appear deniable and then is attached to the second allegation which is true but now denied by the discrediting of the first one thus all allegations appearing to be discredited on the whole.
On the hearing, I was there:
The Barys were not there. They were on the phone and said NOT A WORD during the entire hearing.
She cried because Shayan Elahi (the new Islamist attorney for Mohamed Bary) tried to stop all of the people whom Rifqa loved from coming to visit - Jamal Jivajee, The Lorenzes, the Lorenz children.
Mediation won't work because Shayan Elahi was insisting it was a waste of time despite Judge Dawson's insistence. Dawson was thisclose to citing Elahi with contempt of court.
The magnificent Ken at Tundra Tabloid is working through the morning (well, my NY early morning, he's in Finland) transcribing it for Atlasians. Here are excerpts of the transcription of the Williams interview, which I will try to get all up later in the day. Williams is quoted extensively in the Newspuke piece.
Atlas: Can you tell me a little bit about her home life, what she was living with, during those four years she was a Christian? What was she dealing with at home?
BW: From the moment I met her, she shared her story about that at home, she had to hide the fact that she was a Christian from her parents. And she would have to sneak out and go to church services on the weekend, when most kids are sneaking off to party, you know, she was sneaking to go out to prayer meetings and church services as a kid. But she was telling me stories of how her father had found little evidences of traces of biblical writings or things around the house, and that each time he would find those things he would get progressively more upset with her, and at times he would tighten up on her, you know like send her to the mosque and make her attend these classes on the weekend, I think she told me that these class last four or five hours on Saturday.
She told me about an instance where I think he found a Bible or some kind of Christian book, picked up a laptop, cornered her, and was about to hit her with the laptop and told her that he would kill her, if she was a Christian. She told me about sexual abuse that happened, and I kept these things under a tight lip just because I don't think that anyone wanted to wrestle with it, and I just think that in America that so many people are in denial that this is happens all over the world. When you approach people about it and kind of how you see it in the media, people just don't want to believe it, but it's true, it happened, people really died, blood really gets spilled.
And she was constantly in fear of that, and I think that the whole time that I've known her, is really why the reason I've kept in contact with her, because she would email me and just from her stories about the things her father and mother would say to her, that had her terrified. So I just kind of tried to be there for her.
Atlas: You see the reason why I'm asking these questions, I know that it's painful, I know that it's a painful subject, I know that it's difficult, but frankly, no one is discussing Rifqa. No one is discussing Rifqa's story, no one is discussing the real fears that Rifqa has and the real threats that she faces. And I'm sure Brian that you see that this is being played out in the media to a very hostile press. A press that in Florida particularly, because they're the ones covering it, painting her out to be some kind of trollop with the dark red fingernail polish and the hand blown kisses.
I was in the front row and she wasn't blowing any kisses, she was actually weeping but that's something else. But I must saying that the people that are not there like me or like you, where we know what's happening. They're getting this tripe, they're getting this propaganda from the media, and so it's very important, while it may not be very comfortable for you to talk about the threats she faced, what abuse she suffered. I have to tell you that it is incumbent upon you to tell her story. Because she can't. You know she can't because it's the DCF that controlling everyone that talks to her now, the Lorenzes have been restricted. And I see the new lawyer is really trying to isolate her from everyone that she trusts, She was crying when they said that the Lorenzes were restricted. They are trying to get John Stemberger removed as her lawyer, all the people that she relies on, all the people that she trusts.
Let me ask you, Is that not what it's about, it not about apostasy in Islam and what a egregious thing, what an egregious crime it is, a shame it is on the family, and in this particular case, unlike Amina Said, Aqsa Parvez and the other girls in the West that have been murdered, this is a crime against Islam?
BW: Yeah and you know that Rifqa comes from a family that has a strong Muslim heritage, I believe she told me at one point that her father, ah not her father but her grandfather was an Imam and that she was the first Christian in the history of her family that's known and that any anyone in her relations have been a Christian, so for her the issue of apostasy is incredibly shameful to her this family, and they tried to turn this issue into being what kind of Muslims live in Sri Lanka and that her family are liberal Muslims and that's totally not the case at all.
Her grandfather was an Imam, so think that this is something that people need to pay attention to as far as apostasy is concerned. This is happening all over the world, it's spread through Europe, this situation in the UK has escalated to epic proportions and now you're seeing things starting to infiltrate over here in the United states. So I think that it is something that America needs to wake up.
Atlas: Now when she described the tough situation at home, did she give any details in terms of what exactly, what kinds of threats or abuse or at the hands of her father or mother or the brother for that matter, the older brother, the one that threw the thing at her eye, that she lost her eye? Did she ever describe to you any of the particular details of what exactly, apart from the obvious death threat which was why she really ran at the time, other than that, was there any other conversations that you had that she discussed with you in particular what she was suffering under? She was definitely afraid, she was living a double life which is in of itself is very difficult.
BW: Right. As far as isolated incidences, there is the incident I think, I'm not sure if it's in her affidavit or not, but incidents where her mother upon finding Christian books that I actually gave her, informed her father about it and then told her that they were going to send her back to Sri Lanka to be dealt with, possibly put into an asylum where they would try to, I guess salvage her and reconvert her back to Islam.
The thing with her was that her parents, they thought that just the western influence, like the Christianity, they thought that that had something to do with, being around American school kids, they didn't really understand that this was something that she had done years ago. So they would send her to the mosque, try to recondition her I guess. and once they found out that she was baptized, when I baptized her I think is when tensions escalated to the highest.
the portion has to be slipped just under the part where is says.. *tensions escelated to the highest*.....
[1:09:24 PM] KGS59: Atlas: She lived in fear of him.
BW: Yeah definately, she was terrified of her father, she told me at the time, just driving in the car, I'm not sure what it's called, but the head wrap that you see Muslim women wearing, she didn't want to wear that and I guess that her father punched her or hit her in the face or something like that in a rage. I'm sure that there were a lot of things you know, but as a sixteen year old at the time, it was tough for her to talk about it with people. One, that I think she thought that people wouldn't believe her, and secondly, as a young person there were other emotional issues aside from any spirituality, the emotional state of being threatened by your father. I mean that would have to be tough for her you know?
Atlas: In that time that you knew her, it was a year, did the family travel to Sri Lanka a lot? Did the father travel to Sri Lanka a lot, did the family, or were you not in that daily contact with her were you knew that she was in the states all of the time?
BW: Well I know that she was in the States, I don't think that she had been back to Sri Lanka from the time that I've known her, but I know that her father traveled a lot with his business, I'm not sure whether he left the country or not, but I know that he was frequently on the go.
Atlas: He was frequently on the go. As a matter of fact it was that night that he has actually cut his business trip short and was coming back because the mother called him, and that was members of the mosque that called the mother right, and ratted her out?
BW: Yeah exactly. People from the Noor center had found her Facebook profile, and she had some things on there about Jesus, and they were, she called me actually, and told me about it too, and told me that people from the mosque had been calling the house and leaving messages saying that they need to get their daughter under control or else. So putting this pressure on the parents to get the situation under control, and then at that point she had to deactivate her facebook account, And then her father I guess sent word to the mother that he was going to come home and have her dealt with.
I think at that point her mother expressed to her, and I remember she told me something that was so hard for me to imagine that a mother would say this to a daughter. She told her that you are no longer my daughter, so she basically disowned her on the spot. She said that if I were to die I don't want you to come to my funeral, you're no longer my daughter, we don't want you. I mean, she said this to her just because she found out that she was a Christian on Facebook. As a sixteen year old girl that has to hurt.
Atlas: I'm sure that it cut deeply, she was very afraid of the father coming and and it cut to the quick, by a mother who said you are no longer my daughter.....
Brian Williams: Ok , Yes, I've been seeing some reports here of trying to paint her father as a sincere man and who sought medical care for his daughter and taken that instance, but to be honest with you, that's just the meal ticket into the United States, and I think that was the point that I wanted to make with that, because there is absolutely no history....
The police in Columbus Ohio, I think one of the sergeants came on record and said, "that he comes off with me as a warm loving man", and I'm just like, "really?" A really warm loving man who tells his daughter that he's going to kill her. They'll take anything, and people like, Michael Kruse, whatever his name is,
Atlas: They're terrible, but when she's free and she's able to travel on her own, I'm hoping that she comes to New York, because I have somebody that will fit her eye with a perfect eye, and you won't know that she doesn't have vision in that eye. I'm hoping that, but she has to be eighteen, but just that she knows that's in her future. You know, that's in her future.
BW: I've talked to her about that, she believes that Jesus is going to heal her eye.
Atlas: I don't know if his name is Jesus, (laughter) but there is a great ophthalmologist in New York that is just as close I guess. I really want to thank you Brian for doing this podcast with me, you are really a righteous person and really good. You are really holding yourself up for great ridicule and you know that , and coming to this girl's defense, because that's what they do, they smear those that come to save her from a terrible fate.
You can see that they are doing that with her lawyer, they paint him out to be some kind of Christian conservative whacko or whatever, and you know myself as some right-wing nut. This is what they do. They ridicule, they polarize, they marginalize and this is what they try to her. You see what they did to Lorenz, I mean that's criminal in my book.
And so you are putting yourself out there and for that I say thank you, because it's no small thing because they're vicious, vicious.
BW: Well it's been an honor to speak up for her, we love Rifqa, America loves Rifqa, so, I just want to thank you for all of your hard work and for being one of the few who are willing to report the truth and not worry about opinion polls.
UPDATE: Reader Julia points out:
The cost at Midwest is a mere $700 - just over $2000. There is insurance and financing available, too.
The ONLY parts of the body that show under that hateful burkha are hands and the EYES. Even the most selfish parents could at least foresee that they could never unload Rifqa to a proper Muslim husband if her eyes were ugly beneath the Burkha. Or perhaps they would wish not to have her poor physical state reflect negatively upon their care?
How about unselfish parents? Even the most insensitive nominal parent who maintains a modicum of concern for the child would at least wish the child to cease to labor with that ...
Rifqa almost always covers that eye. It IS an issue for her.
Here is a good site that covers the basics of ocular prosthetics: