Canadian Mom Accuses Saudi Son-In Law Of Beating Her Daughter

If a woman really wanted to, she could escape an abusive marriage even in Saudi Arabia. But sometimes it may come with a price, having to leave the children behind. I think if things are truly as Morin’s mother claims then its possible she could be enduring such a tumultuous relationship to stay with her children. We have statements from an (overly?) concerned mother who obviously has no love lost for her son-in-law and an abusive/lying husband (if that’s what he really is) but no one-on-one, face to face interview with Morin. I’m trying to put myself in her shoes…if I wanted the world to know my real situation, how could I find a way to contact the media or Canadian Embassy and release a personal statement without being under duress to do so?

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Saudi Son-In-Law Wife Beater: Canadian Mom
Sarah Abdullah
Arab News | Jeddah
29 April 2009

Despite recent reports that Nathalie Morin is living happily with her husband and their three children in the Kingdom, Morin’s mother Johanne Durocher is still fighting to bring her daughter and three grandchildren back to Canada while accusing her son-in-law of being “abusive and manipulative.”

Durocher, who spoke to Arab News recently by telephone from her home in Longueuil, a city near Montreal, described her daughter’s situation saying: “She is sequestrated, locked in the house, has no friends or family there and rarely has enough food in the house to feed herself and her children.”

Speaking candidly, Durocher also said that it is hard to reach her daughter with her only contacts being rare e-mails and the mobile phone number of her son-in-law, Saeed Al-Shahrani.

“I am very careful in what I ask her and say because I know if he suspects I am getting or giving her information, then I know Saeed will beat her up again,” Durocher said.

These are accusations that Al-Shahrani denied in a November interview with Arab News.

“Nathalie went back and forth (from the Kingdom to Canada) on her own will many times,” he said, adding that their life was happy and normal until Nathalie’s mother came to visit in December 2005.

“My mother-in-law did not approve of our customs and lifestyle, and she started to turn her daughter against our life.” But Durocher maintains that her daughter is in an abusive relationship, and has been sequestered by her husband.

“If she were happy with a husband from Saudi Arabia, Italy, or France, I would be happy for her and visit her often,” she told Arab News.

“It is true that I have done all I can to get Nathalie out of Saudi Arabia after I visited because I saw what she is going through. He hit her in front of me and calls her ‘stupid’. I have gotten e-mails from Nathalie in the past complaining of having no food, being locked in the house and being abused.”

Durocher also claimed that the beatings began in May 2005 even before she visited. She further said that Al-Shahrani was deported from Canada and would do anything to return.

“He took pictures of the bruises and abrasions on Nathalie and told her to call me and say that a taxi driver tried to rape her and beat her up and that I should call the Canadian media and complain to ask Nathalie come back to Canada, but only with her husband,” she said.

“This is why I believe that he started abusing Nathalie and has begun hitting my eldest grandson, Samir. He wants to cause the Saudi government and human rights organizations there to allow him to travel to Canada freely, claiming he wants his rights as a father if he allows them to return to Canada.”

Al-Shahrani reportedly turned down a plea from his mother-in-law to allow his wife and two children to return to Canada without him, saying that he would reconsider if allowed to visit his family regularly. The Canadian Embassy also offered Al-Shahrani visitation rights of his children suggesting a future meeting in a neutral European country. But Al-Shahrani declined saying he could not afford the travel expenses.

Al-Shahrani also claimed that to improve their domestic situation Princess Sara bint Musaed gave his family a house while Princess Al-Johara bint Naif furnished the house completely to improve their domestic situation. Durocher confirmed this claim.

“It is true the Saudi princesses have given much to Saeed,” she said. “A house, furniture, and twice (they) donated large sums of money to him, amounting to around SR50,000 in addition to giving him a 2008 Corolla.”

But according to Durocher, he used the money to buy himself gifts and expensive clothing.

“He never eats at home and has his meals at restaurants,” she said. “But he keeps my girl locked in the apartment with no food. He sold his car and kept the money.”

Durocher says that because his schemes have not worked he has obliged his wife to close her case filed to the governmental Human Rights Commission in Saudi Arabia and has called the Canadian Embassy to say that Nathalie doesn’t want to come back to Canada anymore.

Andrea Meyer, media spokesperson for the Canadian Embassy, said that the mission has been “strictly involved with the longstanding case” and “actively offering continued support” to Morin. Citing the sensitivity of the case, Meyer offered no further comment.

When asked why she continues to campaign for the return of her daughter and grandchildren to Canada despite reports that Nathalie is happy, Durocher said: “It is because I know they are not well and that they are depending on help from me.”

Johanne Durocher, mother of Nathalie Morin, in front of photos of her daughter’s children at yesterday’s news conference

Quebec Woman Says Saudis Blocking Trip Home To Canada
15 April 2009
PostMedia News | Montreal

Nathalie Morin knows she made a terrible mistake moving to Saudi Arabia with her young son in 2005 to live with the boy’s father.

Four years later, the 24-year-old woman now has three children and her mother says she is being held in the Middle East against her will because her partner has refused to allow her to return to Canada with her children.

“I know I put myself in this situation, but I want to come back to Canada as soon as possible with my three children,” a tearful Morin said in a telephone conversation that her mother, Johanne Durocher, recorded this month.

Morin’s partner, Samir Said Ramthi Al Bishi, was in another room when Durocher recorded the phone call. “We are intimidated and scared and I am hit every three or four days,” Morin says on the tape. She says she and her children have been confined to their apartment for about 18 months, except when Al Bishi lets them outside.

“I don’t want to be condemned; I need your support to come back to my country,” Morin sobs, before someone hangs up the phone line.

The recording was played for reporters yesterday at a Montreal news conference. Durocher said lawyer Julius Grey will launch a lawsuit against the federal government unless Ottawa helps her daughter return home.

“We are trying to establish that the government has an obligation to people abroad – where foreign laws are incompatible with our charter,” Grey said yesterday.

Durocher claims Foreign Affairs officials and employees at the Canadian embassy in Riyadh haven’t done enough to help Morin, who cannot use the telephone without Al Bishi’s permission. She also claims someone in the embassy is leaking information to her daughter’s partner.

Before Christmas, Deepak Obhrai, the parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, met with Morin and her partner to mediate the couple’s dispute. Obhrai said yesterday that no one in the embassy is leaking information, adding that embassy staff spends about 20 per cent of its time on Morin’s file.

“We gave her financial assistance (on two occasions) to come back,” Obhrai said, adding that in 2006, while Morin was in Canada, Foreign Affairs officials advised her not to return to Saudi Arabia.

“The children are Saudi citizens … and there are laws there that apply,” he said.

Under Saudi law, the children’s father has final say over whether the children can leave Saudi Arabia.

Morin met Al Bishi in 2001 when she was 17 through a mutual friend. Their first son was born in Montreal in 2002 before Al Bishi left Canada after receiving a deportation order for being here illegally.

Morin visited Al Bishi twice in Saudi Arabia before moving there in 2005.

Durocher said the relationship soured soon after.

Durocher acknowledged that releasing the audio tape could put her daughter in danger, but she said she had no other choice.

“I have to do this to help my daughter,” she said.

kwilton@thegazette.canwest.com

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Photo Credit: Phil Carpenter, The Gazette

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Tara Umm Omar

American married to a Saudi.

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