A Syrian man has appealed to the Turkish president to help him reunite with his children taken away by Swedish authorities.
Diab Talal, whose five children were taken away by Swedish social services, said that there is no place they have not turned to in order to get their children back, adding that they wanted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to help them.
Living in Sweden for five years, Talal and his wife Amal Sheikho told Anadolu Agency about their plight.
Moved to the Norrbotten County in northern Sweden in 2017 as part of the UN refugee resettlement program, Talal said that his four children were taken away in the first years of his arrival in the country, and his fifth child was taken from them in 2021, right after his wife gave birth.
Noting that the youngest of his children is eight months old and the oldest nine years old, he narrated: “We came to Sweden from a stressful road and war. When we first arrived, we were depressed. They took our four children from us on our neighbor’s complaint. Even though the investigation that followed did not find any evidence that we used violence against our children, they did not give them back to us. They handed over the children to different families and forbade them to see us.”
He said that they joined a protest against this situation. “While we were shedding tears for our children, we were targeted in the Swedish media and was labeled ‘Islamists and terrorists’.”
Suffering greatly for years because of the longing for his children, Talal said: “There is no place we have not turned to. There is only one God and Erdogan left who can help us. I am calling to Turkiye, I am calling to Erdogan, I am calling to the whole world. We want our children.”
Mother who has not seen her children for 4 years
Also, mother Sheikho said that she had not seen her children for four years, and said: “They took my child from me five minutes after I gave birth in the hospital. I have not seen any image or photograph of my other children for four years. Think about the mood of a mother whose five children have been taken away from her.”
Muslim immigrant families in western Sweden protested on Sunday against social services for allegedly unjustly taking their children from their homes.
Swedish officials say that children are removed from their families under certain circumstances but have denied allegations of “kidnapping” and abuse of children.
Sunday’s demonstration followed up on a protest last week in front of the parliament in Stockholm in which Muslim families whose children had been taken away from them by social services accused it of mistreatment and abuse.
Last Thursday, the Swedish Consulate General in Istanbul denied claims of mistreatment and abuse of Muslim children by social services.
“A very aggressive rumor campaign is currently underway on various social media – both in Sweden and abroad – alleging that Swedish social services kidnap, imprison and sexually exploit Muslim children. This information is, of course, seriously misleading and the sole aim is to create tensions and spread mistrust,” it said in a statement.
The statement added: “Swedish social services’ activities are governed primarily by the Social Services Act, which is based on the principle of voluntariness. However, complementary provisions in the Care of Young Persons Act make it possible in certain cases to decide on measures even without consent.”
* Writing by Seda Sevencan in Istanbul
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