Ted Strickland has found himself in the middle of a “holy war”, as the Columbus Dispatch puts it.
Long story short, Fathima Rifqa Bary, a former Muslim and converted Christian, claims her Muslim father wanted to abuse or kill her. For this, she ran away to join a new Christian family in Florida. Gov. Crist of Florida and Gov. Strickland both agreed that she must be returned to her family in Ohio.
It’s a complicated issue and one I’m not interested in commenting on. However, an aspect of the story did get my particular attention.
Strickland says the case is a family matter that should be handled in Ohio, and there is no reason to believe that Rifqa would be unsafe here.
The Facebook group “Saving Rifqa Bary” has more than 1,800 members, and a group supporting her father has about 500 members.
And a rambling and emotional YouTube video of Rifqa, a former New Albany High School cheerleader, has been viewed thousands of times — along with numerous tributes and commentaries.
Before the Sept. 3 hearing, conservative activists and a Muslim man shouted insults at each other in front of the courthouse.
“They kind of made her an icon in this,” said Rilvan Bary, Rifqa’s 18-year-old brother, at the Bary home in Columbus. “It’s sad, actually.”
Some friends say I’m a bit cynical; always looking at the political implications of almost any issue.
This is one of those times.
The Bary case is one that has clearly ruffled a lot of feathers in the Christian community. Now, it’s safe to say that most folks that support Fathima in her efforts to run from her family would likely not be supportive of Ted Strickland in 2010, regardless of this situation.
But, by supporting Fathima’s father on this issue, Strickland has left a bad taste in the mouth of thousands of Christian activists. These are people now invigorated to do more than simply vote against Ted Strickland; they now want to do whatever they can to get rid of him – raising money, knocking on doors, making phone calls – these folks want Ohio’s Governor to get the message that his actions were unconscionable.
Strickland may have awoken a sleeping giant.