Pamela Geller, an anti-Islamic blogger based in New York, settled a lawsuit filed by one of Rifqa Bary’s attorneys this week.
Bary, a minor, fled from her parent’s house in Ohio to Florida because she converted to Christianity. According to Bary’s attorneys, she moved to Florida in an effort to practice Christianity away from her disapproving parents. A website created about the case claims that Bary left “after her father threatened to kill her for apostasy, a crime under Islamic Sharia law.”
Geller — along with a small group of anti-Muslim advocates in Florida, including a U.S. Senate candidate — fought to keep the young girl away from her parents. An attorney for Bary’s parents, Omar Tarazi, later sued some of those involved in the case for defamation.
Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger was sued by Tarazi for saying Tarazi was unqualified. Stemberger also alleged that Tarazi had terrorist ties in a 2009 TV interview. Last month, the defamation lawsuit was dropped after the two men reached an undisclosed agreement.
Geller and Rifqa Bary’s attorney were also sued for defaming Tarazi, a case that was settled this week.
Columbus attorney Omar Tarazi represented Bary’s parents, who denied intending to harm their daughter. Investigators in Florida and Ohio documented tension in the family but never found evidence that Bary was in danger.
Police recommended criminal charges be filed against adults in Ohio and Florida, including Christian ministers, who helped Bary run away, but prosecutors declined to pursue the charges.
Tarazi had argued that New York-based blogger Pamela Geller defamed him by alleging he has terrorist ties. One posting linked him to Hamas, for example, which the State Department has designated a foreign terrorist organization.
That blog and four others will be removed permanently from Geller’s “Atlas Shrugs” blog under the settlement, which did not involve any money.
Atlas Shrugs was described by The New York Times as a “site that attacks Islam with a rhetoric venomous enough that PayPal at one point branded it a hate site.” According to the Times, Geller “has called for the removal of the Dome of the Rock from atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; posted doctored pictures of Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court justice, in a Nazi helmet; suggested the State Department was run by ‘Islamic supremacists’; and referred to health care reform as an act of national rape.”
In court documents, Geller argued “that many of the postings singled out in the lawsuit also could fall in the realm of hyperbole and not defamation.”
Bary was eventually returned to Ohio. She has yet to reconcile her with her family. She turned 18 last year and is no longer embroiled in a public legal battle.