Rifqa Bary was thrust into the limelight in 2009 for fleeing her home at age 16 to escape the wrath of her Muslim family when they discovered she had converted to Christianity.
Now a 22-year-old college student, she is sharing her thoughts and experiences in her new book released Tuesday, “Hiding in the Light: Why I risked Everything to Leave Islam and Follow Jesus.”
Six years after the events that changed her life, Bary says she still lives in fear of retribution from her family but has never regretted her decision, according to the Daily Mail.
Born Fatima Rifqa Bary, she moved with her family to the United States from Sri Lanka in 2000 for medical treatment after an accident with a toy left her blind in her right eye. She was 8 at the time.
She converted to Christianity at the age of 12, keeping the secret from her family for four years. Growing up in a strict Muslim home, she details in her book what it was like to to then be seen, by some, as one who brought shame on her family.
“Those who do understand it, and understand it very well, are those who have wanted me dead. That’s why I have taken, and continue to take, precautions to protect my life and safety,” she wrote, according to Columbus Dispatch.
On July 19, 2009, Bary boarded a Greyhound bus in Ohio and traveled nearly 1,000 miles southeast to Florida.
Police used phone and computer records to track her to the Rev. Blake Lorenz, pastor of Global Revolution Church in Orlando, whom she had met through a Facebook prayer group.
Despite her claims that her father threatened to kill her and her mother threatened to send her to a mental institution in Sri Lanka, the courts ended up sending the teen back to Ohio where she lived in the foster care system.
She was soon diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer and given only a year to live, but Bary underwent treatment and survived.
The book details the abuse she was subjected to growing up and how the local mosque was part of the reason she fled, notes the Daily Mail.
Her parents have denied all the allegations of abuse, claiming they allowed her to freely be a Christian.
But for Bary, trying to lead a normal life, the fear of retaliation is always lurking in the background.
“I still feel like my life is in danger,’ she says. ‘I don’t live in fear all the time but I still have to be wise and cautious.”
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