Syria: Kids still waiting

Sarah and Ammar have both celebrated their birthdays recently, in the Dutch Embassy in Damascus. The kids have spent close to two months in the embassy, waiting for diplomatic negotiations between the Netherlands and Syria to allow them back home.

There has even been a suggestion by a Dutch politician to involve the US in order to pressure Assad directly.

Their father, Hisham Hafez, says that they can go back to the Netherlands, when they're 18. Until that time, he says, they belong with him in Damascus. The Embassy is like a jail and they can't continue staying there.

His kids have been interviewed on Dutch TV and said they want to go back to the Netherlands. To which Hafez says: "Then I'll never see them. I'm on the Ineterpol list. They see me as a criminal. I'll be picked up if I come to the Netherlands. That's why I say, when they're 18 they can leave here if they want to, then you wouldn't be able to forbid Ammar and Sara anymore."

Mohammad Hassaan ’Awad, a professor of Islamic Law in Syria, thinks that the kids should be sent back to their mother, Janneke Schoonhoven. The marriage was contracted in the Netherlands and the mother lives there. If that can be proven and the kids want to live with her, then according to Sharia law she should be able to bring them back.

'Awad, who wants to help mediate in the case, says that Sharia law puts the kids' interests in the center and since they have shown countless times that they want to go back to the Netherlands, it should be a possiblity.

Schoonhoven says about her ex-husband: "He has lived in Europe for 30 years. He has double citizenship, Dutch and Syrian, and he has accepted the judgement of the Dutch judge that the kids belong here. If we would have married in Syria and had kids there then I would have had to abide by the law."

Sources: Telegraaf (Dutch), Dagblad van het Noorden 1, 2 (Dutch)

See also: Syria: Abducted Dutch kids flee to embassy, Syria: Update on Dutch kids, Syria: Dutch kids ask Queen for help


nouille said...

Great, this man Hafez who's o n the interpol list, wants to send his kids back when they are 18?

Just what the Netherlands needs two teenage muslim kids who are unemployed, and unfamiliar with the country and culture anymore.


nouille said...

There has even been a suggestion by a Dutch politician to involve the US in order to pressure Assad directly.

Why involve the U.S.?

Isn't this what European politicians hate about the U.S. it's constant meddling in affairs that they should stay out of?

Esther said...


At the moment, the kids are in Syria and therefore, Sharia law is quite important. Sharia law was not an issue during the Dutch court discussions, as far as I know. The Dutch claim that since the divorce took place in Holland and since the Dutch courts already ruled about parental custody right, and since according to Dutch law, the kids have a right to voice their opinion and they've already did so, the kids should be allowed to go back. Syria is taking its time in replying to that.

It is quite easy to side with the mother on this issue. I do wonder though what visitation rights did the father receive in the first place. Divorce cases are not easy and I've heard of too many times when fathers were not allowed to see their children for quite stupid reasons, while mothers usually have automatic custody.

As for the US.. that's a very good point.