A mother has told of her heartbreak after returning from Egypt without her son, who was snatched by his dad.
A court has ruled Aisha Qureshi’s two-year-old son Omar has been “wrongfully retained” abroad after Abdelaziz Antar tricked Ms Qureshi into visiting Egypt last November.
Ms Qureshi has been frantically trying to get Mr Antar to return her son – but despite two visits to Egypt and court judgements there and in the UK ruling in her favour, she returned to Dewsbury without Omar for a second time yesterday. A judge this week gave permission for the “sad case” to be reported at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London after an application by Ms Qureshi’s lawyers – who hope publicity will help Omar get home sooner.
Speaking exclusively to the Reporter Ms Qureshi, 35, said: “My family is not complete without Omar and never will be. My other children miss him very much and don’t understand why he’s not at home with us.
“I was tricked into travelling to Egypt and since then life has been a nightmare. I never agreed to Omar staying in Egypt and the plan was always for us to come home to England.”
Ms Qureshi said a family wedding in Egypt, where businessman Mr Antar, 39, had been living, was used as a ruse to take Omar. Due to problems while there, Ms Qureshi decided she wanted to come back to England earlier than planned.
But Mr Antar said she could not leave with her son and hid her passport. Just before the New Year, she made an unsuccessful last ditch attempt to escape, taking her son from Mr Antars’ house.
She was then escorted to Cairo Airport by Mr Antar’s two brothers, who stood over her shoulder until she booked a one-way ticket back to England for herself.
On returning to Egypt in January, Ms Qureshi was allowed three visits to Mr Antar’s house under the supervision of his family, but has heard nothing about her son since then.
“When I saw Omar in January, he was clinging to me and was very distressed,” said Ms Qureshi. “It was heartbreaking to walk away from my son like this and it was obvious he didn’t want me to leave him.”
Police have twice visited Mr Antar’s house with Ms Qureshi this month to get him to comply with an Egyptian court order that says Omar should be living with her – but he has uncooperative on both occasions.
“I was told by the police to stand at a distance,” Ms Qureshi said. “I caught a glimpse of Omar who ran out of the house. I wanted to pick him up, take him home and never let go. I saw Abdelaziz’s family members come out and take him back inside.”
Ms Qureshi and Mr Antar had met via the internet in 2008. Mr Antar was married with three children and living in Egypt. He wished to “enter into a second marriage” and had said he was planning to relocate to England.
The couple married in a Muslim wedding ceremony in June 2008 in Dewsbury, although the marriage was not recognised under English law.
Mr Antar had stayed with Ms Qureshi for around two weeks and returned to Egypt at the end of June. After that he had visited Ms Qureshi “approximately every six months” and had attended his son’s birth in July 2011.
It is now in the hands of Egyptian bureaucracy as to when Omar will come home.
Ms Qureshi’s English lawyer, Lubna Shah, said: “All the court orders that could assist her case have now been obtained in England and Egypt and it is question of enforcement. This whole experience has been very traumatic for her but she will not give up.”