Muslim Parents Deny Threatening Daughter With Honor Killing Over Christianity

Parents blaming pastors for Rifqa Bary's statement that her life is in danger.

ByABC News
August 11, 2009, 1:29 PM

Aug. 13, 2009— -- The Muslim parents of an Ohio teenager who fled to Florida fearing an "honor killing" for converting to Christianity today blamed their daughter's fears on the husband and wife pastors who took their daughter in and didn't report her presence for more than two weeks.

"Neither Mr. or Mrs. Bary have ever threatened the life of their daughter, and patiently await their daughter's safe return," Craig McCarthy, a lawyer for Mohamed Bary and his wife, said in a statement issued today to "Good Morning America."

Fathima Rifqa Bary, who goes by Rifqa, left home in New Albany, Ohio, last month and hopped on a bus to Orlando to meet with husband and wife pastors Blake and Beverly Lorenz, who she met through a Facebook prayer group for the couple's non-denominational Global Revolution Church.

The couple have become the 17-year-old girl's biggest allies, saying she has told them that her father threatened to kill her when he found out she had secretly become a Christian.

"To anyone's knowledge, Rifqa never told anyone that she was frightened while living with her parents in Ohio. Those words only came out of her mouth after being missing for two and a half weeks and surfacing in the tight embrace of Mr. Lorenz, who had not promptly reported that the runaway had been in his home," the parents' statement read.

Lorenz could not immediately be reached today for comment, but told Tuesday that he and his wife weren't even aware Rifqa's parents had reported her missing until she'd been at their house for more than two weeks.

Bary is now in Florida fighting to bring his daughter home. A judge Monday ordered Rifqa to remain in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families while authorities in that state and Ohio determine whether or not she'd be safe at home.

"If this case is perceived as a clash of religions, it is because Mr. Lorenz recklessly and without authorization put someone else's child in front of television cameras to publicly renounce her previous faith," McCarthy said in the statement. "The parents who love Rifqa are in the best position now to protect her from the mess that Mr. Lorenz has made."

But Lorenz told Tuesday that they were the people Rifqa sought out for protection.