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The Latest Interfaith Custody Nightmare

The Latest Interfaith Custody Nightmare

Whew, here’s an interfaith breakup/custody case that makes the Joseph and Rebecca Reyes one a few years ago seem pretty tame: a French Jewish woman suing her Saudi prince ex for custody of their 10-year-old daughter Aya (interestingly, the Reyes’ daughter had a similarly palindromic name: Ela). According to the Telegraph:

The Paris criminal court ordered Prince Sattam al-Saud from the kingdom’s founding royal family, to hand over custody of his daughter Aya to her French mother, Candice Cohen-Ahnine, and provide child support of €10,000 (£8,300) a month.
For the past three-and-a-half years, the prince has kept Aya in a Riyadh palace despite efforts by the French foreign ministry and President Nicolas Sarkozy's office to resolve the issue.
But the French court ruling appears to have had no effect on the prince. “What do I care of Sarkozy?” he is cited as telling Nouvel Observateur magazine. “If need be, I’ll go like [Osama] bin Laden and hide in the mountains with Aya.”

According to Cohen-Ahnine (as reported in the article), the couple was never married and their relationship ended when he offered to take her as his second (and simultaneous) wife.

Sattam al-Saud tells the Telegraph, however that:

she had converted to Islam and the two had married in Lebanon under Islamic law, and under terms of the divorce, put through courts in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, the parents were to share custody of the child.
He said the protocol was drawn up in Saudi Arabia offering her a house, all expenses paid and access to the child and the possibility of taking her on holiday for one-and-a-half months a year.
He said she left Saudi Arabia for France without even telling the family. He claimed that she said: “'Give me two million euros and take the daughter’. I said, 'No, I don’t bargain over my own child’. That’s when the problem started.”

I’m not sure whose story is more accurate, although I’m inclined to believe the woman, particularly as it’s hard for me to imagine a woman (unless utterly impoverished) selling her daughter — and hard to sympathize with a man who likens himself to Osama bin Laden in any way. In any event, I learned from this article that converting from Islam to Judaism is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. Not that I’m surprised, but …

Note to single Jewish gals: you know, I’m not going to guilt trip you for dating a Muslim, but ix-nay on hookups with Saudi princes, OK? Even if you don’t mind not being able to drive, well, being a second wife and living in a fundamentalist, totalitarian country in which women and non-Muslims have no rights — it’s just not a smart idea. But if you must, please, please use contraceptives. Even if they are illegal in Saudi Arabia.

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