A reader submitted a story from CNN that has the strangest headline and lede:
Muslim teen fears for life after changing religion
A Muslim teenager from Ohio says her father threatened to kill her because she converted to Christianity.
Rifqa Bary claims her father wants her dead after she converted to Christianity.
Okay, this one is pretty simple, CNN. If someone converts from one religion to another, they’re by definition no longer the religion that they converted from. She’s not a Muslim teen, she’s a Christian teen.
The story has other problems, too. It’s about a 17-year-old named Rifqa Bary who ran away from her family in Ohio and took refuge in the Orlando, Florida, home of the Rev. Blake Lorenz of the Global Revolution Church. The teen said in an affidavit that her father Mohamed Bary was pressured by his mosque and told the teen that he would kill her. The reporter talks to the father:
Mohamed Bary told CNN a lot of false information has been given and “we wouldn’t do her harm.” He knew his daughter was involved with Christian organizations.
“I have no problem with her practicing any faith,” he said, but Bary admitted he would have preferred his daughter to practice the Muslim faith first.
I could be wrong, but that last paragraph just sounds weird. What does it mean to “practice the Muslim faith first.” I can’t help but think that the reporter explained the father’s quote incorrectly — that he said he would have of course preferred her to practice Islam.
The story is responsible insofar as it includes both the daughter’s and father’s perspective. However, it would have been helpful to have any outside perspective at all regarding the punishment for apostasy in Islam. What, exactly, are the range of beliefs for what should be done to females who convert? Certainly there are places in time and history where the consensus has held that capital punishment is in order for apostates. But there are also Muslims who argue that the Koran and Hadith should not be so interpreted.
It seems that this story would provide an excellent hook for a discussion of this topic, no? The governing body of the World Council of Churches met last week in Geneva and they took up the issue:
The World Council of Churches is calling on Pakistan to repeal the mandatory death penalty for blasphemy in the country’s penal code.
The reader who submitted the story wondered if CNN was trying to make a comment about whether this teen’s conversion was real or allowed. But the United Nations
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights defines religious conversion as a human right in Article 18:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief.
Does CNN disagree with this?