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Legal Defense Fund Established for Rifqa Bary Attorney John Stemberger to Fight Attacks by Muslim Lawyer Who Opposed Bary in Ohio

Case Evidences Increased Radical Islamic "Lawfare" Approach to Squelching Free Speech

Contact: Lesley S. Bateman, 813-849-0076 ext 106, Lesley@design4.org

CINCINNATI, Jan. 25, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- A non-profit legal defense fund (www.StembergerDefense.com) endorsed by several national leaders has been established to assist and defend Florida attorney and conservative leader John Stemberger against what is seen as a growing trend of malicious lawsuits and other legal actions filed by adherents of radical strains of Islam and designed to punish, silence and chill legitimate public discourse about Islam.  The term "Lawfare" like "warfare" denotes "the use of the law as a weapon of war" * or, more specifically, the abuse of the legal process and judicial systems to achieve strategic, military or political ends. 

Stemberger represented teenage Muslim Rifqa Bary who converted to Christianity and fled her home after her parents threatened her life for not renouncing her faith.

Omar Tarazi, the Muslim attorney who opposed Bary and against whom the case was decided, filed two legal attacks against Stemberger -- one in federal court and one before the Florida Bar. 

"The Founding Fathers created the First Amendment to protect exactly the type of political, social and religious speech involved in this case," said Wallbuilders Founder and Historian David Barton.

At issue, according to those supporting Stemberger's defense fund, are America's First Amendment liberties and the ongoing attempt to squelch any criticism, legitimate or not, of Islam and its tenets.

Tarazi, in apparent retaliation after Rifqa Bary's freedom and legal residency was secured, filed a $10 million dollar defamation lawsuit against Stemberger in an Ohio federal court.  Tarazi also filed a grievance complaint with the Florida Bar asking for Stemberger to be disciplined as a lawyer.  Tarazi's primary complaint in both legal actions is essentially the last 30 seconds of a Fox News interview Stemberger gave on December 23, 2009 (see: stembergerdefense.com/faq), even though Tarazi's name was not even mentioned. 

"The lawsuit suit is completely frivolous but unfortunately any defamation claim must be taken seriously and defended against a default judgment," said Stemberger.  "The Bar complaint is also without merit and in time both will be dismissed although the process itself will be expensive.  My public statements on Fox News were truthful, made in good faith, and constitute core First Amendment protected speech.  Both legal attacks will be defended on that basis." 

The Stemberger Legal Defense Fund is endorsed by several national leaders including former United States Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, General William G. Boykin (retired); Historian David Barton; Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. among others.

Rifqa Bary, who has not spoken out publicly since turning 18 years of age, also makes a personal appeal for support of Stemberger's Defense Fund on web site's home page. 

Rifqa Bary is a former Muslim teenager who made international headlines when she ran away from her parents to Florida after they threatened her life for not renouncing her Christian faith. Converted after attending a Korean Methodist church service in 2006, Rifqa successfully hid her faith for nearly three years until leaders of the Noor Mosque in Columbus discovered on Facebook her claim of being Christian. Mosque leaders confronted Rifqa's parents who in turn threatened Rifqa.

* Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap, Law and Military Interventions: Preserving Humanitarian Values in 21st  Century  Conflicts (2001)

ABOUT Stemberger Legal Defense Fund
The Stemberger Legal Defense Fund is a project of Citizens for Community Values (CCV), an Ohio based 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization dedicated to a number of causes including the defense and preservation of First Amendment liberties, such as freedom of speech and religious liberty.  Online donations can be made and the Fox News video clip in question can be viewed at