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Compass – Three months after winning a final court victory for custody of her two children, Jordanian Christian widow Siham Qandah has enjoyed her first anxiety-free summer in seven years.

“We are in such a better situation now than for many years,” Qandah told Compass by telephone last week from her home in Husn, a town in northern Jordan . “I am not going back and forth to the courts or to the lawyers anymore. So we have been living very peacefully this summer.”

Although by law her children’s Muslim guardian had 30 days to submit a petition against the June 13 decision revoking his guardianship, his lawyers took no legal action. “We have heard nothing back from the court since we won the case,” Qandah said.

“I think he has finally given up on it,” Qandah’s pastor at Husn Baptist Church commented.

Since 1998 Qandah had been enmeshed in a judicial wrangle with her estranged brother, a convert to Islam who tried to gain physical custody of her children to raise them as Muslims.

After being widowed 11 years ago, Qandah’s challenges as a single mother were compounded by an unsigned “conversion” certificate filed in an Islamic court claiming that her soldier husband had secretly become a Muslim three years before he died.

Under Islamic law, she could not contest the document, which automatically changed her minor children’s identity to Muslim. Nor as a Christian could she handle their financial affairs, even to draw their monthly orphan benefits guaranteed by the Jordanian army.

For this reason she located her long-estranged brother, who had become a Muslim as a teenager, asking him to serve as the children’s legal guardian. But after Abdullah al-Muhtadi agreed, he began to pocket the benefits himself. Then he tricked influential judges in the Islamic courts into signing large cash withdrawal slips for him from the children’s U.N. trust funds, claiming they were to pay his legal expenses. (See Compass Direct, “Jordanian Widow Wins Final Court Battle ,” June 20.)

In the end, the Muslim guardian embezzled nearly $17,000 from the U.N. trust funds Qandah’s daughter and son were to have inherited at age 18. But for Qandah, the right to raise her children as Christians far outweighed the economic factors…[Go To Full Story]