Rifqa Bary Death Threat

Back on 22 August, a Christian Facebook page called “Voice of Truth Radio” drew attention to another Facebook page called “rifqa bary” and bearing the alarming description “why we need to kill her”. This anti-Bary page also carried a derivative (and neutral) news report which had been published in the Lanka Times the day before.

The story has now made its way to Pamela Geller, who has a couple of screenshots (here and here) showing that before it was taken down it had 123 members; however, while the eight members we can see on the screenshot include seven Muslim-origin names, they mostly belong to young Westernized-looking women, and there is also a white American conservative Christian woman. It should be remembered that people often join such groups without taking care to read exactly what they are about, or in order to monitor or argue with those they disagree with – therefore membership of the group does not in itself signify agreement with the description. Indeed, the “Wall” section below has postings denouncing “the lies” of Bary’s father. No admins are named – a notice reads that “there are no admins left”. In another screenhot, Geller shows us eight more members; here more-religious looking Muslim women predominate. Geller tells us that the page was brought to her attention by an ex-Muslim named Achmed.

A Google cache from 23 August shows that on that date there were only 11 members, and again none of them look like extremists. The death threat is still there, though, so it wasn’t added later, and we can see that the page’s creator and administrator at this point was a certain “Mohamed SahlanSuhail” (sic for lack of space between last two names). His own page has also disappeared, although MSN has a cache.

Incidentally, some have suggested that because of my distaste for the bandwagon of hucksters and demagogues who have attached themselves to this case, and because I have pointed out some problematic aspects to the story, it must therefore be the case that I wish to deny the existence of honour killing or the traditional death sentence for apostasy (two separate issues, by the way), and also that I must therefore disbelieve her account in favour of her father. Of course, that’s not my perspective at all – we all know that killings do occur,  and my view is that an allegation of this sort ought to be investigated. However, that investigation needs to focus on the particular home situation; the idea that the father must be a potential killer simply because he’s a Muslim is not a serious way of proceeding.

Name variation: Mohamed Sahlan Suhail