Religion in IPCA

Religion in IPCA (A must read if you know someone involved)

We wanted to write about this controversial topic as it gets ignored far too often until too late, some have no idea about its consequences and there is just not enough awareness about religion when it comes to International Parental Child Abduction or IPCA.

IPCA across international borders garners global attention and demand a more adequate solution than what is currently in place. The UN and some individual countries have established what they ‘think’ is an international solution, but conflict arises when countries refuse to participate in and accept these solutions. Algeria, for example, has neither participated in nor ben a signatory to an international child abduction convention. In Algeria, Islamic law dictates family law, and family culture and traditions differ significantly from Western societies. Islamic nations frequently favour men’s rights over women’s rights, and Algeria like all other Muslim majority states will not subject itself to Western ideas of marriage and family by signing an international child abduction agreement at the expense of its own religious culture.

All Muslim majority states and in fact even most non-Muslim states who are signatory to the Hague Convention do not enforce foreign custody orders. However there are certain circumstances in which the Muslim state has a bilateral treaty with other countries concerning international child abductors and their extradition. BUT generally though, the Muslim state follows a comprehensive set of child custody laws set out in its own federal law system.


Often an abduction case in the Muslim state is treated as a child custody case, NOT abduction and for this reason authorities like Interpol will not touch an IPCA case in a Muslim state. It is not a crime in Muslim states to abduct your own child so Interpol can only issue Red (warrant for parent) and Yellow notices (missing notice for children) in the hope the abductor leaves the Muslim state where the Red notice will kick in and they can be arrested. So as a left behind parent reading this don’t get your hopes up as we know first-hand Interpol are useless in IPCA cases. We have been involved in cases with Red notices where the Muslim state carries out routine stops within their states; they stop a father wanted by Interpol for abduction. He gets arrested for a few hours, a few days, or a week before the local authorities release him and he goes back to hiding the abducted children.
Muslim majority states do not require they amend their family law code, but do require that they recognize their place in an international system of states where border crossings are common, easy, and routinely abused.
Usually devastated non-Muslim mothers feel powerless to get their children back, even though they are often European citizens who should be protected by European law, such as the Hague Convention. But like all abductions we have and are dealing with the husband – who became a devout Muslim during their marriage – appears to have no regard for foreign law. His law is Sharia law, the religious law which governs all family relationships in the Islamic world.
There are hundreds of cases where foreign-born women have married Muslim men, only to see their children abducted and taken back to the husband’s Islamic home country when the marriages have broken down.
This issue should not be used as an excuse for racist sentiment. This is a cross-cultural conflict in which foreign women are swept off their feet, and children are the ultimate victims.

Very rarely do these innocent children return to the European democracy in which they were born, and in most cases even access to the children for the non-custodial parent is severed completely for years sometimes forever.

As CARI has experienced first-hand this area is very delicate and highly dangerous and the police need to be aware of what they are dealing with. Our operatives have had several experiences where children’s lives were most definitely at risk, particularly when they were found.

We believe when foreign women and Muslim men fall in love and marry, they do not see the potential consequences of their “mixed marriages”, as we call them. You can tell them, but they will not listen. In nearly all cases CARI has and is dealing with involving a Muslim majority state the foreign parent does not understand the power of Sharia law.

All may be lovey and sweetness in the heady romance of a new relationship, but down the line, when the couple become parents, the Muslim parent may grow to feel more strongly about rearing his or her children in the Muslim religion. Or the non-Muslim parent as an example a Catholic parent, may insist that a child makes its first Holy Communion and go to a Catholic school. The Muslim parent, usually the father, may feel justified in using this as an excuse to abduct his children and take them back to the Islamic world. We have also known many cases where the foreign women travels on a holiday with her girlfriends to fall in love with the local charming barman who is set on leaving his poor life behind and sees a foreign women as his ticket out of his harsh life. Western passports, citizenships and money are some motivations behind many beginnings of international relationships and sadly having children are also part of some plans.

While there are happy marriages between Muslims and non-Muslim spouses, tensions between non-Muslim law and Sharia law could be viewed as an accident waiting to happen. Under Sharia law, a Muslim parent must bring his or her children up as Muslims. There is no leniency.

While “mixed marriages” in non-Muslim states often mean that girls are reared in the religion of the mother, while boys follow the religion of the father, there is no room for such compromise under Sharia law. While many foreign spouses of Muslims have willingly converted to Islam so they can rear their children as Muslims, others have not wanted to do this.

In this day and age, with easy access to travel, parental child abduction has become increasingly widespread. When you travel to most countries you see all the advertising or warnings of not bringing in illegal objects or food products that can harm their country, but where are the notices or educational material about being involved with someone in a foreign country? Is a child’s life not as important as a piece of fruit? The world needs to be educated on this topic before the mass of abducted and missing children around the world become ‘masses’ of abducted and missing children around the world.

As a result, the return of a child from a Muslim majority state is quite uncommon.

These innocent children in the middle of usually two feuding parents are the real victims.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, the question of religion doesn’t seem to come up until children arrive on the scene.

Adam Whittington
CARI-Child Abduction Recovery International

The above information is based on our now 17 years experience dealing with IPCA and returning 178 children who were abducted, many in Muslim majority countries.


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