Activists today will gather in Orlando for the next chapter in the ongoing saga of a 17-year-old Christian convert who fears for her safety after running away from her Muslim home in Ohio.
Fathima Rifqa Bary's court appearance is expected to draw activists, reporters and lawyers to Orange County's juvenile courthouse today.
Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson must decide whether to leave Rifqa in foster care here or let authorities in Ohio take over.
She rode a Greyhound bus from Columbus, Ohio, to Orlando and moved in with a husband-and-wife team of ministers. She said her father had threatened to kill her because she converted to Christianity, though her parents have told the Orlando Sentinel she has nothing to fear.
More than 400 people have sent e-mails to Gov. Charlie Crist, most asking him to keep her away from her family. More than 1,800 people have joined the Rifqa Bary Support Group page on Facebook.
One group, promoting itself using strident anti-Muslim rhetoric, plans a lunch-time demonstration at the juvenile courthouse.
Rifqa disappeared from her home July 19 and popped up at the home of Blake and Beverly Lorenz of Global Revolution Church in Orlando. The couple says it met the teen through an online prayer group. Beverly Lorenz said she spoke to her just one time on the phone before she appeared.
The incident has left her family in suburban Columbus befuddled.
"Honestly," said her father, Mohamed Bary, "we didn't know why she left."
There is no evidence, according to Columbus-area authorities that her father poses any threat.
The girl's father, a jeweler, insisted he never threatened to kill his daughter.
"She doesn't know what she's talking about," he said in a phone interview last week. "I want her to come back home. I love my daughter whether she's Christian or anything else. I want my daughter back."
There appears to be no evidence, except from the teen, that her father threatened her.