I thought Atlas readers would find it very telling to read the question and answer session from yesterday's Rifqa Bary press conference. Notice how so few questions address Rifqa. Why so little on the abuse? Why no questions on the Qaradawi connection? Why no questions on Sultan? Why no questions about apostasy in Islam? Why no questions on the very real danger Rifqa is in? Why no questions on what a high value target Rifqa is? Why no questions on Mohamed Bary's claims of poverty? Questions on Rifqa's friends? No. Teachers? No.
Why are the media so in the tank for the Islamists?
Much thanks to KGS who transcribed the whole thing -- stop by and say danka!
Mike Schneider from the Associated Press: "Just a quick question. A lot of what you described kind of seems tangential to the case, I mean, has her parents ever proclaimed support for the Muslim Brotherhood or supported terrorist organizations? I mean, shouldn't the focus be on her family?
John Stemburger: Well, her family are members of this mosque, they are involved with these types, that's the problem, and they associate with people in their home and on a regular basis are involved. It's obvious they're being influenced by the unique teachings, which would be highly observant teachings of this particular center. That should be a major concern to the court I would think especially since its directly tied to their household.
Mediator: Does that answer your question, Mr.Schneider?
Mike Schneider: Oh yeah, there is a follow up if I could, um, given the attention this has gotten from the Florida authorities, Ohio authorities, the media, can you honestly say that you think that she'll be harmed if she goes back to Ohio?
John Stemburger: Based upon everything that we have researched, and all the experts that I have listened to, I think that there is no question in my mind that if she is sent back to Ohio, it is only a matter of time before she slips away into the night. The United Nations has reported that there are over 5000 honor killings or apostate killings a year, and so this is not something that want Rifqa to be a statistic of. And we believe that it's in her best interests, clearly to retain her stable placement here in Florida and to not have her return to Ohio.
Mike Schneider: Thank you.
Wall Street caller: Question: Hello, I would like to know if you know anything about the contact between the local CAIR chapter and the Orlando Sentinel? Is this where the Orlando Sentinel is getting its version of the case?
John Stemburger: I have no idea if there are any special relationships between CAIR and the Orlando Sentinel, I think they are in cue too to ask a question, so perhaps they can answer that question directly, so, but I don't have any information for you.
Wall Street caller: Thank You
[Rene is the rube over at the Sentinel - Atlas]
Orlando Sentinel, Rene Stutzman: Yeah, this is the Orlando Sentinel, Rene Stutzman. Can you give me the names of the people at Noor Mosque that want Rifqa dead?
John Stemburger: Rene, I think that after you read our brief the totally of the circumstances present a direct danger to her. Obviously in this kind of a situation you are not going to identify a specific person. Her father made specific threats to her, that's a significant threat.
Orlando Sentinel, Rene Stutzman: Mr. Stemburger, also, could you tell me, have you seen the report or gotten the summary of the FDLE's findings in regards to its charge from the court?
John Stemburger: No, but I would eager to see those, do you have a copy of those?
Orlando Sentinel, Rene Stutzman: Yes, sir.
John Stemburger: I do not have a copy of that but I would look forward to seeing their findings. I imagine a lot it would be consistent with what we have alleged here, but I have no idea of knowing that.
Orlando Sentinel, Rene Stutzman: Thank you.
Rachael WKMG: Can you tell me if she has spoken to her parents, and does she still feel that they would be the ones to take action against her if she went home or is more a concern of the more larger community from the Noor Center?
John Stemburger: I am not aware that Rifqa has spoken with her parents since she's been here in Florida, and Rifqa, in her statement in court indicated that she definitely loves her family, but is threatened because of the past beatings from her father, and the threats from her father. My primary concern has to do more with the community which surrounds her household and their daily lives as a result of this incident. I'm certain that both are real and serious, but it's hard to know which would be more serious.
Rachael WKMG: Ok, thank you.
Danielle Cangelosi, Fox News channel: Mr.Stemburger: I want to ask you if Rifqa ever recalls her father using the language of "dishonoring the family" or "dishonoring Islam". In the affidavit he threatened to kill her, I just wonder if he ever specifically said that he would, he needed to take care of her because she was dishonoring Islam or the family.
John Stemburger: I am not aware that she has indicated those specific words
[Cangelosi was the FOX producer I worked with on their Honor Killing special back in June 2008 - Atlas]
Danielle Cangelosi, Fox News channel: So where did she, I mean did she just base on her studies and what she knew about the faith is how she came to the conclusion that it would be an honor killing if she returned?
John Stemburger: She knew when she stepped into the Korean Methodist Church years ago that she was doing something that would be viewed very very, with great hostility, rather, and she had fear back then and continued to live with fear until she escaped to Florida.
Danielle Cangelosi, Fox News channel: Um..also in the affidavit it also, there also at the end, her mother threatened to send her back to Sri Lanka to be dealt with there. Did she ever explain exactly what her mother meant by saying "to be dealt with in Sri Lanka"?
John Stemburger: No, she did not explain it in detail, but the implication was that she knew that Sri Lanka did not have the kind of protections the United States had, and that it would not be a pretty situation.
Danielle Cangelosi, Fox News channel Ah, one more question. In the household, was it, did her father uh, was it a strict Muslim household? You know that in lot of the pictures on TV, she seemed to be very Western in that, it looked like she was on the cheerleading team, because she didn't appear to have to wear a burka or anything like that. I was just wondering if it was a strict household? I mean in what ways?
John Stemburger: Ah, certainly. It appeared that her father was encouraging all members of the family as adherent as possible under the circumstance. If you look at the two young girls that were killed in Texas in January of last year, they were modernized, they were not devout Muslims at all, and so in a lot of these situations you have kind of a tipping point where the child or the spouse becomes so westernized in a variety of ways or so unadherent to certain traditions or practices, that there's a tipping point and there's the ultimate demise.
John Stemburger : We have literally gotten hundreds of communications from Christians who were former Muslims. We've gotten communications from a variety of types, people who just love her and want to pray for her, I mean it's really difficult to keep up with the influx of communications, but there's a number of people who have an interest in the matter.
Same Questioner: What about other Muslims (UNCLEAR)
John Stemburger: None specifically that I'm aware of. I'm sure that they are out there but none that I'm aware of.
Same Questioner: Has Rifqa been able to visit at all with her brother or her family..(UNCLEAR)
John Stemburger: The court allowed for her to visit with her younger brother after the last hearing, however for some reason that visitation never took place. It's possible that the parents just denied visitation with her, but we have no way of knowing why it did not go down.
Mike Schneider, Associated Press: Hi John, Mike Schneider from the Associated Press, I just hope that you could clarify something for me you said a few minutes ago about past beatings, what did you mean by that?
John Stemburger : Her father has slapped her with such force that just knocked her over. Her father asked her to wear the official headdress of Islam, and because she, I guess, lowered her body down in the car so she couldn't be seen, he punched her on the side of her face, with great force, because she was ashamed of that.
[Reported exclusively at Atlas August 17th - Atlas]
Mike Schneider Associated Press: And when did this happen?
John Stemburger : I do not have that specific information, it's not in the affidavit, but it was in our original petition.
Mike Schneider Associated Press: Ok, thank you.
Morry Radio: Thank you very much. Mr. Stemburger, what is Rifqa'a emotional and spiritual state right now, knowing all that has been at stake for her, in converting to Christianity? Where is she now in her spiritual journey, and how is she maintaining her faith despite the media attention and the horrendous threats presented to her life
John Stemburger : I have to tell ya that Rifqa is a remarkable young lady, she is petite in stature, almost stunningly petite, but she is robust and big in heart, and it's just, while she has great moments of fear and apprehension, has great hope and trust and joy. Her faith is very very real, much more than most of ours, and that's a great source of hope and comfort to her.
Morry Radio: What kind of a future is she looking at, remaining in foster care indefinitely, what will happen when she turns eighteen when other legal matters may present for her to live an independent life? What is the outlook of her future
John Stemburger: Those questions are beyond our, you know, the scope of this conference. Obviously her goal is trying to get the state to protect her, at least over the next year. Obviously when your free and you're a minor, you can hire body guards, you can move about on your own, you can protect yourself, you can move around to other parts of the country, you can freely go about in order to protect yourself. Because of the circumstance now, we're trying to get her to be , to remain under the custody of the state of Florida until she reaches the age of maturity.
Morry Radio: Ah, very good. And have other people shown interest in taking her under their wing, so to speak, into their households and would this be permissible?
John Stemburger: Right now the court has specific orders that she's to be in a licensed foster care home, and so that's where she will stay until the court orders a new location.
Thank you very much for participating in this conference, this is very important information, and we hope that you all will provide to the public, we believe that much of the coverage, but not all of it, but much of it has been one sided. And it's really been not focusing on the problem, and the problem is not Islam, the problem is Noor Center, because this in a unique mosque, that has unique beliefs and is extremely dangerous. Thank you very much for your time and for participating.
All previous Atlas coverage on Rifqa here.
Contact Gov. Crist and the FL DCF for them to ask the court to keep her in Florida state custody. Here's the contact info:
Governor Charlie Crist's office: Phone: (850) 488-4441,
Fax: (850) 487-0801
Florida Department of Children and Family:
George H. Sheldon, Secretary
1317 Winewood Blvd.
Building 1, Room 202
Phone: (850) 487-1111
Fax: (850) 922-2993