Many people are aware of the former-Muslim of Sri Lankan descent, Rifqa Bary, who claimed to the world that she would be killed by her father because she converted to Christianity, and her blood was “halal” now–whatever that means. Of course, such a sensational story could only be picked up, and propagandized by the Islamophobes around the world, claiming, without ever even daring to ask essential questions about the family’s beliefs and past, that indeed Rifqa’s life was in danger. However, no investigation was being done on whether or not Pastor Lorenz–the individual who was tightly holding Rifqa in the overly-dramatized-plea-for-help video–was brainwashing her. The worried parents of Rifqa Bary, are firmly upholding this claim, especially since it certainly seems more credible then Rifqa’s–or shall we say Pastor Lorenz’s–concocted testimony.

Concocted testimonies by certain fundamentalist Christian groups are not new (check this website). They often create the overly-dramatized storyline where a young Muslim is unable to find happiness and fulfillment in their Islamic religion, and are in search for a religion more spiritually fulfilling–Christianity.  Sometimes, these videos are not always about spiritual fulfillment, but sometimes about the most common stereotypes of the Islamic religion, such as misogyny, sexism, abuse, jihad, as well as several others. Nevertheless, the story-lines tend to exhibit a common trend, where the indvidual, after finding Jesus Christ, and studying the bible in secrecy,  decides to embrace Christianity, and is  met with strong resistance from their family members, who often, and not surprisingly, wishes to harm them physically. Without this aspect in the video, the video remains stale, and does not provide the Christian viewer a reinforcement in the superiority of their own beliefs, and in their beliefs about Islam being a “barbaric, and merciless” religion.  Such an onslaught by fundamentalist Christian sects, only hurts the credibility of their own religion, and their claims; Rifqa Bary is a case in point.

Rifqa’s story entered into the media when she, the pastor, and her family, were interviewed by two, prominent news organizations, CBS and ABC. In the CBS report, the reporter had done an excellent job, showing both sides of the story, giving the family–who is probably enduring more problems than Rifqa is– a chance to speak out against the allegations Rifqa (or Pastor Lorenz) bemoaned about. Rifqa’s brother, in the CBS report, makes a portentous point about Rifqa not making eye contact with the camera throughout the entire video–and if I can add, not shedding one tear. For the Islamophobes, this empirical evidence is not enough to convince them. The report by CBS,  albeit  short, perfectly elucidated on the family’s concerns and beliefs of Rifqa’s conversion, and the puppeteer, Pastor Lorenz.

(The CBS report)

In the deceptive ABC report, the family is completely besmirched, and their views of the case are barely investigated. At the beginning of the report, one notices the astute Rifqa Bary, clutching on to her tutelage and pedagogue, Pastor Lorenz, begging him to not to take her to the court. After the narrator mentions that she was Muslim, a rusty brown-tinted scene, presenting voraciously praying Muslims, was shown, but contrast that with the scene pursuant to that of when the narrator mentions Christianity:  it contains no rugged , dark, graphics or tints–this occurs throughout the entire segment. Interestingly enough, the reporter decides to take allegations of honor killings raised by the runaway-teenager to a pro-Zionist, and brazen Islamophobe, Phyllis Chesler. She, of course, relishes the moment, and presents her analysis of the case, while ABC displays images of burka-clad women in Afghanistan in order to reinforce Phyllis’ analysis, and also substantiate the claims made by Rifqa Bary.  The ABC news reporter finally allows  the family to present their side of the story, but the reporter only purposely shows one scene, with the  father (who represents the family side of the story) seemingly “running” away from the reporters, as they are asking him desperately, if he wanted to kill his own daughter, and he responds with what they–ABC–wants you to assume is an unconvincing “No”.   Following that scene, ABC shows Pastor Lorenz and his wife, holding hands, walking and smiling, almost to induce the viewer to contrast them with the previous scene of Rifqa’s father, who was rushing out of the court room as if to evade the reporters and their important questions, which the Lorenz family answered with ease and confidence. At the end, the ABC news anchor tries his best to elucidate on Rifqa’s fathers position on the case, but doesn’t actually present any video interviews of him.

(The ABC report)

At the end of all of this, it is clear that this sensational, and often redundant story, propagated by Christian fundamentalists, will always work in their favor, since the stereotypes of Muslims and Islam are prevalent and influential in the Western world. My future premonitions about Rifqa Bary are that she will, undoubtedly, live with Pastor Lorenz for a while to fully become evangelized, participate in as many media interviews as she can, be a self-proclaimed activist for Muslim women,  and probably write a book about her experiences under Islam (the title will most likely contain the word “unveiled” in it).  Besides that, this sensational story, from the perspectives of these two news organizations, does differ in many ways, and probably influenced the viewers understanding of the story, but it will certainly make no difference to the family, who are already guilty of something they have not–and probably would not– commit, and are victims of stereotypes propagated by Islamophobes.

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