The Italian Senate has ratified the Hague Convention for the protection of foreign minors but rejected the application of its Sharia adoption provisions, which envision the application of Islamic law regarding guardianship of minors.
“This remains the most serious attempt to accept and introduce principles of Islamic obscurantism into Italian law,” said Senator Maurizio Gasparri, president of il Popolo della Libertà. “It is disgraceful that someone is trying to impose subservience to Islam by welcoming these uncivilized laws.”
With a vote of 164-50 and 2 abstentions, the Senate approved the Convention of October 19, 1996, and with certain slight amendments sent it back to the House.
Sharia law does not recognize “adoption” as such, but only “kafala,” or Islamic adoptional jurisprudence. To keep children without parents from remaining entirely without protection, Islamic law provides for kafala, which recognizes custody for orphaned or abandoned children. The child does not become the son or daughter of his adoptive parents. The adoptive parents or trustees provide for the child’s upkeep and education until they reach the age of majority, but that is the extent of their relationship. The child does not take the surname of his guardians, has no legal ties with the host family, and does not interrupt relations with his family of origin.
The Italian Senate vote, however, has only suspended the Islamic norm pending new measures that conform it to Italian law. The acceptance of the kafala will be examined in a second parliamentary step to evaluate the possibility of adapting it to Italian law.
Senator Emma Fattorini has been assigned the task of assessing the compatibility of kafala with the principles of the Italian Constitution.
Italy has stood out in Western Europe for not having ratified the Hague Convention of 1996. Other European countries have already run into situations where the application of the Convention has been complicated.
Perhaps the most famous case was that of Katya Harroudj, a French national who attempted to adopt the Algerian child whom she had taken into her guardianship under kafala. The child in question had been abandoned at birth, and an Algerian court had granted Harroudj the right to take the child into her legal care and was even permitted to change the child’s name to Hind Harroudj. Three years later, Harroudj tried to legally adopt the child, but a French court prevented her from doing so, noting that kafala gave the applicant parental authority, but that a child could not be adopted if the law of his or her country – Islamic law in this case – prohibited adoption.
In 2013, Spain agreed to the demands of the government of Morocco that Moroccan children adopted by Spanish families must remain culturally and religiously Muslim. This was not just a verbal pact, but it involved establishing a “control mechanism” allowing Islamic authorities in Morocco to monitor the children until they reach the age of 18 “to ensure they have not converted to Christianity.”
Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón explained that he had acceded to the demands of his Moroccan counterpart, Mustafa Ramid, so that Spanish families could bring Moroccan orphans to Spain.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.