A strange child custody battle is playing out in New York, with Nabila Albarghouthy telling a judge that her ex-husband is indoctrinating an 11-year old boy.
Albarghouthy is a practicing Muslim and American citizen. In court, she accused her former spouse, Islam Albarghouthy, of indoctrinating their son with extremist ideology.
“I fear that my son is learning extreme violence and that can potentially put him and others at risk,” she said during a press conference. “I don’t know what happens when he goes to his father. I know that when he returns he’s not happy. He’s irritable. And that’s not the beautiful young boy I know.”
The couple divorced in 2013, according to court documents. They’d had two children together – a boy and girl – in addition to another Nabila had from a past relationship.
Nabila Albarghouthy claims the reason she filed for divorce is because Islam “became extreme in his interpretation of the Muslim religion” in a way that “detrimentally affected our family.”
Islam purportedly asked her to dress modestly, quit the gym, and consent to him bringing home “an additional wife.” CNN reports that Nabila said the relationship also took an abusive turn, with Islam allegedly assaulting her after being confronted over correspondences with his prospective second spouse.
Predictably, Islam Albarghouthy and his counsel vociferously denied each of Nabila’s claims.
“She’s clearly retaliating against my client for filing a petition to award him custody of their son,” said attorney Joy S. Joseph. “And she is obviously hoping to use these false allegations both to defend against the charges that Islam made against her in his custody petition and to gain leverage in her own motion and for a change of custody that I just received this morning.”
“I’m appalled that these parents’ private custody dispute has been exposed and exploited in an apparent attempt to capitalize on the current wave of Islamophobia and make some news,” she added.
Joseph’s arguments are compelling and don’t seem too far-fetched for consideration.
But Nabila Albarghouty’s attorney, Larry Hutcher of Davidoff Hutcher and Citron, pushed back.
“To us, the concerns that we had in bringing this petition was just the opposite: that this would be used as a further proof to support anti-Islamic beliefs or conduct. The fact that she had the bravery and the strength to bring this preceding on, knowing that that would be a question that she’d face, was a very difficult choice for her,” he told reporters Wednesday. “To claim that it was done to take advantage of an anti-Islamic notion in this country is just the opposite. So what she has done is very, very brave, and she’s did it with great risk to herself, but her need to protect her child is what motivated her.”
Nabila’s court filing also recounts an incident which involved their son in 2016.
After the divorce, the boy at the center of the dispute was involved in a playground altercation. When another child told him that “Jesus is God,” the Albarghoutys’ son responded with, “No – Allah is god,” adding that “I would die for my God and they would not die for their God.”
The boy purportedly was involved in other fights, several of which were sparked after he “echoed” anti-American sentiments in school.
The case is unprecedented – never before has a child custody battle been waged on grounds of indoctrination to Islamic extremism.