Five ex-Muslims who founded a group called Former Muslims United put out a public appeal Thursday to the U.S. government for protection, saying the lives of thousands of "apostates from Islam" are in peril.
Speaking at a Capitol Hill press conference, the Granada Hills, Calif., group cited the case of Fathima Rifqa Bary, a 17-year-old from Ohio who converted to Christianity four years ago. She fled to Florida this past summer in fears that her parents would murder her for "honor" reasons. Her father, the girl said in a court filing, had already threatened to kill her.
Fathima first stayed with a pastor and his wife, then ended up in protective custody with Florida's Department of Children and Families. Currently, she is living with a foster family. Investigators in Florida and Ohio, where her parents live, have said they can't find evidence to support her allegations. The girl's fate will be determined at a court hearing in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 27.
Former Muslims United cited no U.S. deaths and could not come up with exact numbers of how many former Muslims reside in the United States or how many have been threatened.