Greece's Own Elian Case Sparks Concern

By Louis Economopoulos | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

Athens ( - As the international tug-of-war continues over Elian Gonzalez, a not altogether different case has developed between the Egyptian grandfather of a 20-month-old baby and the baby's parents, living in Greece.

The Muslim grandfather, living with the baby in Alexandria, Egypt, strongly disapproves of his daughter's marriage to a Greek Christian and has set an ultimatum - either his daughter gets a divorce or she never sees her son again.

From their home in Trikala, Yiannis Diamantis, 30, and his 25-year-old Egyptian wife Jihan Fati are calling on Greek authorities to help bring their son home.

According to Jihan, her father has even filed divorce papers in Egypt on her behalf.

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said Monday he would personally look into "this human tragedy" and Archbishop of Greece Christodoulos said "religion is to blame. It inspires this kind of \plain\lang1033\f5\fs23\cf0 behavior."

The parents of the baby have not seen him since last year when he was taken "hostage" by the grandfather.

Diamantis said his son is a Greek citizen and that he and his wife have sent countless letters to high-ranking state officials, including Prime Minister Costas Simitis, urging them to intervene.

Greek police recently informed Interpol of the case, and the international agency has in turn contacted police in Egypt.

According to Diamantis, his father-in-law is against the marriage and refuses to return the boy to his parents because he does not want the youngster to grow up in a "Christian environment."

Though Diamantis converted to Islam last year in order to appease his wife's family, his father-in-law, true to the Muslim tradition, is still stubbornly opposed to the marriage.
The child's grandfather says he will return the toddler to Jihan only if she divorces her husband.

According to local press reports, the grandfather reportedly asked Jihan to come back to Egypt to start divorce proceedings, and said she would then get the baby back.

"It's not fair for me or for my child," Jihan told local television reporters. "What if I get back now and he doesn't recognise me?"

The Egyptian consulate in Athens has reassured the Diamantis couple that no law in Egypt or anywhere else can separate parents from their children.

The parents are now hoping that Greek officials and the media will exert pressure on the Egyptian authorities to allow the child to return to his parents in Greece.

Conservative New Democracy party Euro lawmaker Marietta Yiannakou-Koutsikou said she would raise this matter in the European Union parliament.\plain\lang1033\f3\fs23