Sunday, September 13, 2009

Meditation: 187 Candles Plus 1, Updates on Maryam, Marzieh, and Rifqa

I've been following the stories of three young women who converted from Islam to Christianity at great cost to their personal safety. Two of them are Iranians suffering in the most notorious prison in Iran, Evin Prison, for the crime of apostasy (departure from Islam), and the the third is a Sri Lankan minor now being held, at her own request, in the custody of the State of Florida.


Maryam and Marzieh

Yesterday, supporters of the two Iranian women, Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh, gathered to pray for them in front of the Iranian Embassy in London. Here is a report from some Americans who traveled to London to join the vigil:

There’s been a great turnout at the Prayer Vigil today – people have come from all over England to stand in support of Maryam and Marzieh. We’ve sectioned off an area for the Vigil just outside of the Iranian Embassy. There are lots of banners and pictures, and everyone is dressed in white.

Throughout the day, the Vigil has attracted a lot of positive attention, both from passerbys and the news media. One major network is here to document, as well as a few other videographers.

Many attendees can’t believe that we traveled from the States to be here. They seem encouraged and inspired to keep fighting for Maryam and Marzieh’s freedom. We’re so glad we came.

It’s nighttime now in London, so we’ve lit 187 candles to represent each of the nights that Maryam and Marzieh have been in prison. It’s a powerful image.

About an hour ago, all of the attendees formed a big circle so we could pray and sing hymns together.

After talking with many different people today, we’ve been reminded that there are numerous stories like Maryam and Marzieh’s, happening right now… all over the world.

Supporters of Maryam and Marzieh have recently established a Web site dedicated to helping free these young women, who are in precarious health. Please visit this site, which provides more information about Maryam and Marzieh and which gives people an avenue by which to add helpful actions to their prayers for Maryam and Marzieh. These young women are suffering increasingly difficult deprivations as their captors attempt to induce them to recant their Christian faith, and their health is weakening. One of the young women, suffering from an untreated infection, fears that her death is near.

Scores of illegal detentions of converts to Christianity have been reported this year in Iran alone.

You can learn more about Maryam and Marzieh and what you can do to help them here.



Today you could light one little candle (in the form of an email of support) for Rifqa Bary, a young Sri Lankan seeking the protection of Florida courts because she was discovered by her mosque and parents in Ohio to have secretly converted to Christianity. Rifqa is not languishing in prison, but, like Maryam and Marzieh, she is awaiting her next court hearing, at which her fate may be decided. At that hearing, she will continue to plead for the protection of the state of Florida against the Islamic punishment for apostasy, which is death. Rifqa fears death at the hand of her father, but, in reality, it could come from another devout Muslim, not necessarily even someone whom Rifqa knows.

Atlas Shrugs has reported that an Ohio police officer talked to almost 20 people who said Rifqa was in fear of her life and that, even now, Rifqa receives death threats daily. Rifqa's parents are demanding that she be returned to them. Ohio had not intervened in the case, leaving Rifqa's fate to a Florida judge, but, as reported by Atlas Shrugs, on September 11, Ohio Democrat Governor Strictland "caved to the Islamists' demand to return apostate Rifqa Bary to her devout Muslim home and hostile Noor mosque."

Via Jihad Watch, from the Orlando Sentinel:

The office of Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland issued a statement saying the teenage girl who ran away from her Muslim home in Ohio to evangelical Christians in Orlando, Fla., should be returned to her home state.
"Child welfare agencies and authorities in Ohio and Franklin County are fully capable of providing for the security and well-being of Ohio's children," the statement said. "The governor believes this is a family matter and therefore would most appropriately be handled here in Ohio with the assistance of the child welfare and foster care system."
Fathima Rifqa Bary, 17, is living with a foster family in the Orlando area. She fled Westerville, Ohio, aboard a Greyhound bus in July, saying her father had threatened to kill her because she had abandoned his faith - Islam - and become a Christian. [...]
Amanda Wurst, a spokeswoman for Strickland, issued the statement Thursday. It puts Strickland, an ordained Methodist minister, at odds with Florida's Gov. Charlie Crist.
In a statement issued three weeks ago, Crist said he was grateful for a decision by Orange Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson to keep Rifqa in Florida.

Rifqa's story has set off a firestorm of reaction. Crist's office reported Friday that it had received more than 10,000 e-mails about it.
Wurst said the Ohio governor's office has received more than 400 calls, e-mails and letters.

Having to choose between one's cherished faith and a death sentence is a terrible prospect, and one that no resident of the United States should even remotely be forced to contemplate. The least we can do for Rifqa--and other converts from Islam who live in fear--is to express our strong support for her to Governor Strickland, here, and Governor Crist, here. Rifqa's case would be much better served if she could remain in Florida until her 18th birthday.

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1 comment:

  1. I've noticed that the MSM is quite unsure as to how to cover this story, if at all. I'm sure they're hoping it will just go away.

    Nice post!