March 16 (Compass) — The Muslim guardian trying to wrest custody of two Christian children away from their widowed mother demanded yesterday that an Islamic court in Jordan discount the mother’s testimony because she is a Christian.
But Abdullah al-Muhtadi’s attempt to play the “religion card” against his own sister may represent the last card in his hand, one of the widow’s friends told Compass today.
Under Islamic law statutes, the testimony of a Christian or any other non-Muslim carries only half the legal weight of a Muslim witness in a sharia court. So al-Muhtadi insisted that the judge must count his testimony as a Muslim to be stronger evidence than anything testified by his Christian sister….
The defendant was ordered on February 6 and again on February 20 to produce before the court documented evidence to disprove accusations that he had embezzled large sums of money from his wards’ trust funds….
As Qandah’s estranged brother who converted to Islam as a teenager, al-Muhtadi launched legal proceedings in 1998 to gain personal custody of her daughter Rawan and son Fadi, ostensibly to raise them as Muslims. The children are now 16 and 15, respectively….
Qandah was forced to find a Muslim guardian for her children after her husband died in 1994, while he was serving as a soldier in the U.N. Peacekeeping Forces in Kosovo. Local courts had produced an unsigned “conversion” certificate, claiming her husband had secretly converted to Islam three years before his death. Although her children were baptized Christians, Islamic law decreed that the document automatically made the “convert” father’s children Muslims as well….
Non-Muslims are not allowed under Islamic law to control the financial affairs of Muslims, so Qandah had asked her brother to take on this court-appointed responsibility to receive and pass on their orphan benefits, never dreaming that he would turn against her and try to take custody of the children himself….
Despite assurances from King Abdullah II and other members of the Jordanian royal family who have pledged the children will not be taken away from their mother, the custody wrangle has yet to be resolved.