COLUMBUS, Ohio—The fate of Fathima Rifqa Bary is now in the hands of an Ohio court.
Rifqa -- the teenage runaway whose story of Muslim-to-Christian conversion made national headlines in August -- is back in her home state today, after spending three months living with strangers in Central Florida.
Rifqa is now the responsibility of Franklin County Children Services, which is expected to place her in a foster home.
The teen's journey to Orlando began this summer, when she reached out to strangers she met through a prayer group on the social-networking site Facebook.
Rifqa said she feared her Muslim family would harm or kill her -- a claim they denied -- because she converted to Christianity. She needed shelter, and the Orlando Christians were willing to help.
In mid-July, Rifqa ran away from her home in the Columbus area, hopped on a Greyhound bus using a ticket bought by one of the strangers, and lived for more than two weeks with husband-and-wife pastors in their Orlando home.
Local authorities eventually learned about Rifqa's case, and on Aug. 10 -- her 17th birthday -- an Orange County judge ordered her into DCF emergency custody.
Since then, more than half a dozen lawyers and the public have argued over Rifqa's fate. Strangers poured into Rifqa's court proceedings, so that court officials had to set up an overflow room. Heated debates occurred outside the usually quiet juvenile courthouse in Orange County.
Thousands of people have e-mailed Gov. Charlie Crist's office. A Web site has been created in Rifqa's name. And several Facebook pages have been devoted to the teen, including the Rifqa Bary Support Group, which boasts more than 9,000 members.
Rifqa told investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that she was to be placed in an arranged marriage and her father threatened her because she left the Muslim faith to become a Christian.
Officials in Florida and Ohio investigated Rifqa's claims and found there were no such threats. Her father, Mohamed Bary, has denied the girl's accusations.
The Barys have said they wanted Rifqa back home, though it's unclear when the teen will live with her family again.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Amy L. Edwards can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-5735.