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Posted in: Islamic Gender & Religious Apartheid, Motherhood & Custody

Published on Jun 18, 2010 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Should an American Citizen be Forced to Live Under Sharia Law?


A few days ago, I received an email from the American wife of a Saudi national on behalf of another American woman who, as the former wife of a Bahraini national, was now trapped in Bahrain. Like Betty Mahmoody, Yazmin (a common Mexican name) Bautista refuses to leave without her five year old daughter Fatima. Both mother and daughter are American citizens. Yazmin married, divorced, and was awarded custody of Fatima in Arizona. Fatima was conceived and reared in the USA. The child's Bahraini father left her in Arizona, married another wife in Bahrain, lured an economically desperate and foolish Yazmin to Bahrain for a visit with false and sugared promises — and has since twice prevented Fatima from leaving Bahrain.

Sadiq (that is his name) promised Yazmin a job, an apartment, a car, a cellphone, and a good relationship with Fatima's extended paternal family. Yazmin had been laid off in Arizona and she chose to believe these promises. Unwise — yes; but now, Yazmin is much wiser. Yazmin also has guts. Twice, Yazmin had cleared customs; once, she was even seated on board a plane. Her ex-husband's agents staged dramatic scenes. A "fake" Interpol policeman claimed he had a criminal warrant for Yazmin's arrest; six female police officers attempted to wrest Fatima from her mother's arms. Unfortunately, the American Embassy representative who advised Yazmin told her, each time, that it would be safe to de-plane and to leave the Customs area.

Nothing could be further from the truth. And I have been advised that the embassy employee is no longer there.

I interviewed Yazmin and one of her advocates at length. This mother has absolutely no objection if this father visits his daughter in Arizona. Or develops a relationship with him. He, on the other hand, has been systematically attempting to separate his daughter from her mother permanently. He has told Yazmin that she can return to Arizona, but that their American daughter cannot. Clearly, Yazmin has no way to earn a living in Bahrain and no extended family to shelter her.

Yazmin is now utterly dependent upon the "kindness of strangers." For awhile, Yazmin lived in a shelter for battered Bahraini women; she is now temporarily living with a Good Samaritan. She has no resources. Her ex-husband is demanding more and more time with the daughter whom he himself had abandoned years ago. In fact, he wants his new wife and perhaps also his mother to take over as Fatima's "mothers." He has employed lawyers (Yazmin can't afford one) to argue his case in a Bahraini court of law where, as a man and a father, the law is on his side.

He would like Yazmin to leave Bahrain — and to leave Fatima behind. As I see it, here is the question: Can an American citizen be forced to live under Sharia law? Can young Fatima be forced to grow up as an Arab Muslim in the Middle East as opposed to as an American in the United States?

Arizona Senator John McCain, Yazmin's senator, wrote to Bahrain's Ambassador to the United States, Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, and urged her (the Bahrainin Ambassador is both a woman and a Jew) to "help expeditiously resolve this matter and allow Ms. Bautista and her daughter to return home peacefully…(since) Ms. Bautista obtained sole custody of Fatima in the Superior Court of Arizona in the United States."

I turned my sources and the story over to Fox News in the belief that they could report it as a breaking news item and attract far more attention than I could at my own beloved blog. They put a very good reporter (Josh Rhett Miller) on it and he posted his story the next day. Fox asked me to write two opinion editorials which I did.

Since the three Fox stories have appeared, here's what's also happened. A local Arizona station interviewed Yazmin's son in Arizona on camera. The Fox articles were translated into Arabic. Interestingly enough, many of the comments in Arabic (translated below) favor the mother's right to custody. For example:

As per the US and Bahrani law, she should have full custody of the child

Let her (the child) go to the US and see the world, smell clean air, attend good schools, play sports, study music, let her go to see different cultures. Are you ready to provide all of that in Bahrain?

This is just a legal issue, not just between a Bahraini and an American. He made the mother beg from people and actually got a court order to prevent the daughter from leaving. She should have custody of the child no matter what sect it was under. Only time will show. There is a problem in the legal system when a mother can't win because she can't speak Arabic. He asks for custody but does not pay child support.

Yes, let her go to America and live an affluent lifestyle and civilized and you receive the best education and live with people who are civilized and educated, why do you want to live here in backwardness and everything is haraam (forbidden). You want to live here with people who are getting backward and reactionary by the day; look at the way they are driving recklessly and compete to break and challenge laws.

She will go back with her mother because the mother is an American you will see, otherwise Obama will not be happy.

Advice, if you love her, you will let her leave. Once she grows up, she will hate you because you prevented her from living in the US. I can't believe you had a chance to live in the US and you decided to come back and live here.

Advice, make up with the mother. Most women have good hearts regardless of their nationality. Just dazzle her and things will work out.

Sadiq has also continued to talk to the press; his story is self-serving, typical, and inaccurate. Yazmin has been allowing him to see his daughter. She is terrified that he will simply "keep" her. There is a trial, upcoming, later in June. I have been told that ABC's Dubai's bureau is now planning to send a reporter.

One of my Fox articles may be read here.

Here is the Arizona interview with Yazmin's son.

Here is the link to a translation of the Fox coverage in Arabic.

Yes, of course, many Arab and Muslim men are utterly charming and soulful. Some risk imprisonment and death on behalf of women's rights. Most don't. Some marriages between Westerner women and Arab or Muslim men are dramatic, loving, fulfilling and meaningful. However, the Western women need to abandon ship and go "native" in terms of embracing Arab and Muslim cultural and religious norms. If not — disaster awaits. Worse: most Western women are not used to being treated as if they were reared as Arabs or Muslims and suffer the change in status. Some don't, of course.

I also suggest that people read two books by "Cassandra." They are titled: Escape from an Arab Marriage. Horror Stories of Women Who Fled From Abusive Muslim Husbands and Thirty Three Secrets Arab Men Never Tell American Women.


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