Breaking News: French Jewish Mother Wins Custody Battle Against Saudi Prince

4 February 2012 update: Spanish and Italian translations of the Telegraph article have now been included. Tara Umm Omar

French Jewish Mother Wins Custody Battle Against Saudi Prince
By Henry Samuel
The Telegraph | Paris
31 January 2012

A French Jewish mother has won a custody battle in France against a Saudi prince, who has been ordered to return their 10-year old daughter he was alleged to have kidnapped after their cross-religious romance turned sour.

Candice said she barely saw her daughter who told her in tears she was no longer allowed to call her “mum” as her guardians said she was ‘crazy’.

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.”

Miss Cohen-Ahnin, 34, and the prince met in London 14 years ago at Brown’s nightclub and their daughter was born in November 2001.

Their relationship continued until 2006 when he allegedly announced that he was obliged to marry a cousin, but that she could be a second wife. She refused and they separated.

Miss Cohen-Ahnine claimed that her daughter was taken from her during a visit to Saudi Arabia in 2008 and that she was held in the prince’s palace where she had only fleeting meetings with her daughter.

She said she managed to leave when a maid left her door open and she sought refuge in the French embassy.
Miss Cohen-Ahnin was eventually spirited out of the country after the prince allegedly produced a document purporting that she had been Muslim but had converted to Judaism — a crime punishable by death.

She said she was concerned about her daughter’s upbringing when she discovered Facebook photos of her in a niqab and playing with her father’s firearms.

Despairing at the lack of diplomatic progress, she published Give My Daughter Back, a book recounting her ordeal, in October.

Since the court ruling, the prince faces an international arrest warrant for ignoring the custody sentence.
Mrs Cohen-Ahnine said the court ruling was a “great victory for me and vindicates everything I have said … but I’m still very worried for my child’s future.”

The prince denied ever having kidnapped the child or the mother.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, he said: “She was free to come and go as she pleased.”

He said 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.”

The prince said he would send lawyers to France to challenge the court decision but not his daughter.

“France hasn’t got the right to take her back. She is a Saudi citizen and a princess. They cannot oblige a princess to leave this country,” he said.

French Jewish Mother Fights Saudi Prince In Custody Case
By Jennifer Lipman
The Jewish Chronicle Online
February 1, 2012

A French Jewish woman won a court victory this week after a judge granted her custody of her daughter, who she claims had been held captive by the girl’s Saudi royal father.

But Candice Cohen-Ahnine, 34, is unable to celebrate because Prince Sattam al-Saoud has refused to comply with the ruling, which also demands monthly child support of £8,300.

Aya, ten, remains in the Riyadh palace, where Ms Cohen-Ahnine says she has been kept for three and a half years and brought up as a devout Muslim.

The child was born in 2001, four years after the couple met in a London club. Ms Cohen-Ahnine, who has written a book about the fight for her daughter, has recalled that she was showered with champagne and expensive gifts and taken on luxury holidays by the “tall, dark stranger”.

The relationship continued, with the prince regularly visiting Paris. But when their daughter was five, she said she was told by the prince that he was expected to marry a cousin and that she could be his “second wife”.

She declined but says she continued to involve him in Aya’s life, bringing the girl to the palace in 2008.
However after being given only minimal access to Aya during the stay and prevented from leaving herself, she says was forced to flee the country and has not seen her daughter since.

According to Ms Cohen-Ahnine, even though she was born Jewish the prince produced a document claiming that she had rejected Islam to convert to Judaism – something that could mean a death sentence in Saudi Arabia.

Ms Cohen-Ahnine has spent the last few years urging the French authorities, including the foreign ministry and President Nicolas Sarkozy, to help her.

The prince has vowed to ignore the court’s decision, reprtedly telling Nouvel Observateur magazine that he would “hide in the mountains” like Osama bin Laden rather than accept it.

“My child’s life is here,” he was quoted as saying. “Let me remind you that my daughter is a descendant of the Saudi royal family.” He also told the Telegraph that Ms Cohen-Ahnine’s story was false and said she had converted and married him under Islamic law, and left Saudi Arabia of her own accord.

He now faces an international arrest warrant for ignoring the verdict.

Miss Cohen-Ahnine said she was pleased with the ruling but aware that it was not the end.

“It vindicates everything I have said … but I’m still very worried for my child’s future,” she said.

_____BEGIN SPANISH TRANSLATION OF TELEGRAPH ARTICLE_____

Madre Judía Francesa Gana Batalla De Custodia Contra Príncipe Saudita
Por Henry Samuel
El Telégrafo | París
31 de enero del 2012
Traducción al Español de Cristina D.

Una madre judía francesa ha ganado una batalla de custodia en Francia contra un Príncipe Saudita, que ha recibido la orden de regresar a su hija de 10 años de edad que fue presuntamente secuestrada después de que el romance de su cruzada religiosa se volvió agrio.

Candice dijo que ella apenas ve a su hija quien le dijo entre lágrimas que no se le permitía llamarla mas “madre”, porque sus tutores dijeron que estaba “loca”.

El Tribunal Correccional de París ordenó a el príncipe Sattam al-Saud de la fundación de la familia real del Reino de Arabia Saudita, entregar la custodia de su hija Aya a su madre francesa, Candice Cohen-Ahnine, y proveer manutención de € 10.000 (£ 8.300) al mes.

Durante los últimos tres años y medio, el príncipe ha mantenido a Aya en un palacio en Riyadh a pesar de los esfuerzos de la cancillería francesa y la oficina del presidente Nicolas Sarkozy para resolver el problema.

Sin embargo, el fallo del tribunal francés parece no haber tenido ningún efecto en el príncipe. “Porque me debe importar Sarkozy?”, se lo cita como dijo a la revista Le Nouvel Observateur. “Si es necesario, voy a ir como [Osama] Bin Laden y esconderme en las montañas con Aya”.

La señorita Cohen-Ahnin, de 34 años, y el príncipe se conocieron en Londres hace 14 años en el club nocturno de Brown y su hija nació en noviembre de 2001.

Su relación continuó hasta el 2006, cuando supuestamente anunció que se vio obligado a casarse con una prima, pero que podría ser su segunda esposa. Ella se negó y se separaron.

Srta. Cohen-Ahnine afirmó que su hija le fue arrebatada durante una visita a Arabia Saudita en el 2008 y que ella fue mantenida en el palacio del príncipe, donde había sólo fugaces encuentros con su hija.

Ella dijo que logró salir cuando una criada dejó la puerta abierta y ella se refugió en la embajada francesa.
La señorita Cohen-Ahnin fue animada con el tiempo a salir fuera del país después de que el príncipe supuestamente alego un documento que pretende que ella había sido musulmán, pero que luego se había convertido al judaísmo – un crimen castigado con la muerte -.

Ella dijo que estaba preocupada por la educación de su hija cuando descubrió fotos en Facebook de ella ven un niqab (velo que cubre toda la cara excepto los ojos) y jugando con armas de fuego de su padre.
Desesperada por la falta de avances diplomáticos, publicó tener a mi hija de vuelta, un libro que cuenta su terrible experiencia, en octubre.

Desde el fallo del tribunal, el príncipe se enfrenta a una orden de arresto internacional por ignorar la sentencia de custodia.
La Señorita Cohen-Ahnine dijo que el fallo del tribunal fue “una gran victoria para mí y reivindica todo lo que he dicho … pero todavía estoy muy preocupada por el futuro de mi hija.”

El príncipe negó haber secuestrado a la niña o la madre.

En declaraciones a el Telégrafo Diario, dijo: “Ella era libre de ir y venir a su antojo.”

Dijo que se había convertido al Islam y los dos se había casado en el Líbano bajo la ley islámica, y bajo los términos del divorcio, pasando por los tribunales en Líbano y Arabia Saudita, los padres debían compartir la custodia de la niña.

Dijo que el protocolo fue elaborado en Arabia Saudita, ofreciéndole una casa, todos los gastos pagados, acceso a la niña y la posibilidad de tomar vacaciones por un y medio meses al año.

Dijo que ella salió de Arabia Saudita a Francia sin informar a la familia. Afirmó que ella dijo: “Dame dos millones de euros y toma a la niña”. Le dije: ‘No, yo negocio sobre mi propio hija “. Fue entonces cuando el problema comenzo”.

El príncipe dijo que enviaría a Francia abogados para impugnar la decisión judicial, pero no a su hija.

“Francia no tiene derecho de llevarla de regreso. Ella es una ciudadana de Arabia Saudita y una princesa. No se puede obligar a una princesa a salir de su país”, dijo.

_____BEGIN ITALIAN TRANSLATION_____

Ultim’ora:  Madre Ebrea Francese Vince Battaglia Per La Custodia Contro Principe Saudita
Di Henry Samuel
The Telegraph | Parigi
31 Gennaio 2012
Traduzione Italiana di A.P.

Una madre ebrea francese ha vinto una battaglia per la custodia in Francia contro un principe saudita, cui è stato ingiunto di far ritornare la loro figlia di dieci anni che è accusato di aver rapito dopo che il loro idillio inter-religioso è finito male.

Candice ha detto che incontrava sua figlia raramente, e la bambina le diceva in lacrime di non avere più il permesso di chiamarla “mamma” perchè i suoi tutori dicevano che era “matta”.

Il tribunale penale di Parigi ha ordinato al Principe Sattam Al-Saud, appartenente alla famiglia reale che ha fondato il Regno, di consegnare la custodia di sua figlia Aya alla madre francese, Candice Cohen-Ahnine, e di pagare per la bambina alimenti pari a 10.000 euro (8.300 sterline) al mese.

Durante gli ultimi tre anni e mezzo, il principe ha tenuto Aya in un palazzo di Riyadh nonostante gli sforzi del Ministero degli Esteri francese e dell’ufficio del Presidente Nicolas Sarkozy per risolvere la questione.

Ma la decisione del tribunale francese sembra non aver avuto effetti sul principe. “Che me ne importa di Sarkozy?” pare che abbia detto al Nouvel Observateur. “Se ce n’è bisogno, andrò come Osama bin Laden a nascondermi tra le montagne con Aya”.

La signora Cohen-Ahnine, 34 anni, e il principe si sono incontrati a Londra 14 anni fa nel nightclub Brown, e la loro figlia è nata nel novembre 2001.

La loro relazione è continuata fino al 2006, quando a quanto pare lui ha annunciato che era obbligato a sposare una cugina, ma che lei poteva essere la seconda moglie. Lei ha rifiutato e si sono separati.

Cohen-Ahnine ha dichiarato che la figlia le è stata sottratta durante una visita in Arabia Saudita nel 2008 e che lei stessa è stata trattenuta nel palazzo del principe dove poteva incontrare la figlia solo molto brevemente.

Ha detto di essere riuscita ad andarsene quando una cameriera ha lasciato la porta aperta e lei ha cercato rifugio presso l’ambasciata francese. Cohen-Ahnine alla fine è stata portata fuori dal paese dopo che il principe a quanto pare ha prodotto un documento che sosteneva che lei era stata musulmana ma si era convertita all’ebraismo – un reato punibile con la pena capitale.

Lei ha detto di essere preoccupata di come veniva allevata la figlia dopo aver scoperto in Facebook foto di lei che indossa il niqab e gioca con le armi da fuoco del padre.

Disperata per le lungaggini diplomatiche, ha pubblicato in ottobre “Ridatemi mia figlia”, un libro che racconta le sue vicissitudini.

Dopo la decisione del tribunale, il principe si trova di fronte un mandato di arresto internazionale per aver ignorato la sentenza relativa alla custodia.
La signora Cohen-Ahnine ha detto che la decisione del tribunale è “una grande vittoria per lei e prova che tutto quello che ha detto è vero…ma rimane la grande preoccupazione per il futuro della bambina”.

Il principe nega di aver mai rapito la bambina o la madre.

Parlando al The Daily Telegraph ha detto: “Era libera di andare e venire a suo piacimento”.

Ha anche detto che lei si era convertita all’Islam e si erano sposati secondo la legge islamica in Libano, e in base agli accordi del divorzio, avviato nei tribunali di Libano e Arabia Saudita, i genitori dovevano avere la custodia congiunta della bambina.

Ha detto che l’accordo era stato stilato in Arabia Saudita e includeva l’offerta di una casa per lei, il pagamento di tutte le spese, la possibilità di incontrare la bambina e di portarla in vacanza per un mese e mezzo all’anno.

Ha detto che lei ha lasciato l’Arabia Saudita per raggiungere la Francia senza addirittura dirlo alla famiglia. Ha sostenuto che lei ha detto: “Dammi due milioni di euro e prendi la figlia. Io le ho risposto no, non mercanteggio sulla testa di mia figlia, e lì è iniziato il problema”.

Il principe ha detto che manderà in Francia i suoi legali per sfidare la decisione del tribunale, ma non sua figlia.

“La Francia non ha il diritto di riprendersela. E’ cittadina saudita e principessa. Non possono obbligare una principessa a lasciare questo paese”, ha detto.

FURTHER READING

Miss Cohen-Ahnine’s book on Amazon, Rendez-Moi Ma Fille!
French Mother Wins Custody Battle With Saudi Prince Who ‘Kidnapped Their Daughter And Kept Her In His Palace For Three Years’
Candice: “Jamais Sans Ma Fille” Aya
Arabie Saoudite: Le Combat D’une Française Pour Sa Fille

Photo Credit: Daily Mail, Parish Match, L’Express, Sunday Times

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Published by

Tara Umm Omar

American married to a Saudi.

7 thoughts on “Breaking News: French Jewish Mother Wins Custody Battle Against Saudi Prince”

  1. She was very naive and too trusting to go back to Saudi Arabia with her child after it was clear that their relationship was not going to work out. I wish I could have talked to her before she took that final trip into the kingdom — it’s impossible for her to get justice and I doubt she ever sees her daughter again. I feel very sad for her, and for the child. While there are some Saudi men who are reasonable, over and over I have seen that Saudi fathers are unwilling to share 50/50 custody of their children with non-Saudi mothers. They want 100% custody and will say and do whatever they have to do to make this happen.

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    1. At the end of the article the father says that she is Saudi and a princess. I feel like with him saying that, this mother will never see her daughter again. Especially now that she went to the press, wrote a book and successfully sued him for custody.

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      1. It’s tragic for everyone. I’m always surprised that the Saudi fathers who do this do not think of the wellbeing of their child — every child needs their mother, just as they need their father. If I were ruler of the world (smile) I would make it totally illegal for anyone to use their children as weapons in cases of adult separation or divorce. There is NEVER an excuse for that…

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        1. Saudi Arabia and other countries should come together and consider enacting a custody law which makes it illegal for either parent to kidnap a a child that is half-Saudi. Before marriage, both should sign a document that they would share custody 50-50 in the event of a divorce and if one or them is deemed an unsuitable parent, they would have to provide tangible proof in order to get full time custody of the child from a judge. That would be in an ideal world…

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          1. Oh and I forgot to add, if either parent reneges on the agreement by kidnapping their child or holding them beyond 50% of the time, they would be fined and sent to jail. If more people see that they would be held accountable for kidnapping and if no country harbors kidnappers, perhaps there would be less instances of this problem.

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