The Case of Anna, Max and Iradj El-Qalqili - Christian Canadian mother from Waterloo, Ontario, utilizing Sharia law

1. Anna (4 years) and Max (5 years) are German and Canadian citizens. They were born in Dubai and received Canadian passports directly after their birth. Their German father, Iradj El-Qalqili, has tried over years, to convince the mother, a Canadian lawyer from Waterloo, Ontario, to agree to apply for German passports for the children. 

2.Their Canadian mother filed for divorce in early 2017 and removed the children from the matrimonial home. Until then the father was the primary caretaker.

3.The Dubai Courts issued a temporary court order based on Sharia-law, which, for young children, gives sole custody (and thus effectively control) to the mother. That court order also provided the children with the minimum right to see their father for 3 hours per week under supervision, as per Dubai Court’s standards.

1.Since 2017, the psychological and physical damage to Max and Anna for is clear from various reports from school and several healthcare professionals.

2.The damage is even verified by the World Health Organization, which reviewed the medical records. Concerns are for example malnourishment and wetting pants again frequently in public.

3.After the father has been pleading for months, Dubai Courts have recently issued an urgent court order to bring the children for a medical examination and to provide evidence that all recommended treatments were done in 2017 and 2018 – currently the mother is appealing that court order.

1.The UAE have signed the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, which sets out the basic rights of children. These rights include the right to an identity and documents (e.g., a passport, as per article 7 and 8), to be with their family, in particular parents (article 9) and to be educated and learn about (their) culture (articles 29 & 30). Nations that ratify this convention are bound to it by international law.

2.However, since 2017 the Dubai Courts have enabled and supported violations of Max’ and Anna’s human rights in the following ways:

  1. No German passports: Dubai Courts declined three times to provide to the father the documents, which are needed so the father could for German passports for the children;
  2. No family meetings: Dubai Courts refused four times to allow Max and Anna to travel to Germany to meet their German relatives, although the father provided evidence that their grandmother is terminally ill (the mother was allowed to travel with them to places like Singapore, where there is not even a family connection;
  3. No German culture: Dubai Courts refused two times to provide the documents their father would need to apply for a school for them where they would at least partially be educated in German;
  4. Separated from the father: Dubai Courts failed to enforce even the very limited time the court awarded as part of a routine judgment to their father since May 2018 (supervised visitation of three hours per week).

1.Documents from the German Consulate General: As alternative to the UAE’s Sharia-based law, the UAE allow expatriates to use their national laws for private matters. In Max’ and Anna’s case, the Dubai Courts declined to use German law, ignoring the relevant documents from the German Consulate General in Dubai;

2.A report from a Dubai based German law firm, confirming that the relevant German law was provided to Dubai Courts;

3.Several reports from healthcare professionals registered with the Dubai authorities, showing that especially one child needs special attention;

4.Statements from the children’s school and teachers about the quantity and quality of care the children were enjoying from both parents, especially the father;

5.Police reports about child abandonment.

1.To the father: Max and Anna have been mainly in the father’s care until the mother removed them from their home in 2017. This has been proven to the Dubai Courts for example by records from school, from the UAE’s immigration authority (showing that the father traveled with them literally for months without the mother in 2016/2017, often while the mother went elsewhere) and by witnesses under oath.

2.To their paternal family:  Anna and Max have more than 20 direct family members living in Berlin alone, and some relatives in the Middle East (including the UAE). Before 2017, these relatives have often visited the children and vice versa. Since they are in the mother’s custody, Max and Anna have not seen these relatives again. This separation is particularly egregious, since Max’ and Anna’s German grandmother, the only family member who was present at their birth and helped caring for them immediately afterwards, is terminally ill and by now has not seen the children for 2 years.

3.To their nannies: Max and Anna had two nannies basically from the day they were born. When the mother moved out with them, she refused contact with one nanny entirely and has by now also eliminated the second nanny from the children’s lives.

4.To their pets: Max and Anna used to have several cats at the matrimonial home. Since the mother removed them from there, they are not allowed to visit them.

1.All three levels of the Dubai Courts have reviewed the case – the Court of First Instance declared that German law was applicable, but misapplied it (sole custody to the mother as per Sharia law). The Court of Appeal decided that German law was not applicable, threw all claims of the father out and applied Sharia-based law. The Court of Cassation effectively confirmed the Appeal decision, which means sole custody for the mother, since it was under Sharia, “a mother’s right”;

2.The Attorney General of Dubai can annul judgments on a case by case basis – this would allow to retry the case under German law

By signing this petition you support Max’ and Anna’s father, Iradj El-Qalqili, in his fight for a custody solution under German law which allows the children to:

1.Have access to medical services and recommended treatments – Max’ and Anna’s records were reviewed by the World Health Organization, the Dubai Courts issued an urgent court order based on the WHO’s recommendation, currently the mother is appealing that court order, refusing to have the children examined by the court-appointed doctor .

2.Have regular and sufficient access to both parents – Max and Anna have only been allowed to see their father for 3 hours per week under supervision at the Child Protection Center. Since May 2018, even those visits have not been happening .

3.Have passports from the countries of both parents – Max’ and Anna’s mother has refused to provide the necessary documentation, robbing the children of their right to a passport as evidence of their nationality. The Dubai Courts have declined to obligate the mother to provide those documents three times.

4.Be schooled in both languages of both of their parents – Max and Anna are currently in a Kindergarten where they are being taught in German 60% of the time. Since 2018 the mother has refused to provide the necessary documents to enroll them at the school following Kindergarten.  The courts have refused the father’s request and now the school’s waiting lists are full – Max and Anna may lose their German skills and the connection to 50% of their heritage.

5.Be able to visit both of their families in their native countries, Canada and Germany – Before the divorce proceedings started, Max and Anna traveled every year for at least one month with their father to Germany , they had a very close relationship with their terminally ill grandmother. The courts have several times declined the father’s request to allow one or both children to travel to Germany, but allowed the mother to travel to countries with the children, where there is no family (e.g., Singapore). 

Max and Anna with their father (at a rare occasion a long time ago)