Caseworker: Runaway, Parents Must Talk Religion

December 1, 2009

Author: Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Source: The Fresno Bee

A runaway Christian convert and her Muslim family must listen to each other's views about religion if they are to reunite, a possibility that appears in jeopardy since the girl continues to refuse any contact with her parents or siblings, a caseworker says.

A case-management plan filed Monday said Rifqa Bary and her parents should hear what each has to say about Islam and Christianity as a step toward a possible reunification. But the plan, written by a government caseworker, also said "severe differences" exist between the 17-year-old girl and her parents over what led Rifqa to run away to Florida over the summer.

The girl has said she feared her father would harm or kill her for leaving Islam. Her father has denied the claim.

"Parents concern is that Rifqa has a false perception of their religious beliefs and that her understanding creates a barrier to reunification," wrote Margaret Shirk, a Franklin County Children Services Board caseworker. "Rifqa's concern is that her parents do not understand her practice of Christianity."