PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Malaysian couple in Norway are facing child abuse charges, after being accused of hitting and pressuring their children to perform their prayers and forcing them to fast during Ramadan.
They will have their case heard in court from Nov 4-6.
The couple, both aged 42, have since been separated from their five children - aged between five and 15 - since May this year.
The five children have been placed under the care of three other families, only being allowed to meet their parents once a month for three hours.
The father's brother told The Star on Thursday (Oct 31), that one of the children had felt pressured with the obligation to fast for long hours, and had complained to a teacher in school about it.
That complaint was forwarded to the Norwegian Child Welfare Services during Ramadan in early May this year.
He said that the children were placed in three different families, all of them non-Muslim.
He said as Muslims, his brother was only trying to get his children to pray, learn the Quran and to fast during Ramadan.
"My brother had limited their social life and Internet (access) and maybe this could not be accepted by the child," he said.
He claimed there were no elements of physical beatings involved in this case, as the police did not find any evidence such as a cane in their house.
"This is why my brother was not arrested and he can work as usual. One of his children had claimed to be beaten," he said.
The case was first highlighted in a Facebook post by the father's sister, who had asked Malaysians for help.
"My brother and his wife are feeling stressed as they feel the chances of winning the case are low. Their children just want to be reunited with their parents," he said.
The father has been in Norway for more than 10 years, where he is working as a specialist welder in the oil and gas industry.
In a statement, Wisma Putra confirmed that the couple was facing charges and that the Malaysian embassy in Sweden would monitor the case.
It said that the embassy had contacted the couple and was providing them with consular services.
"The Malaysian embassy is working with the local agencies to ensure that the rights and the welfare of the family is looked after, including making sure that the children are placed with Muslim families," they said.
It added that the embassy staff have been told to attend the court hearings.
Four years ago, a Malaysian couple was found guilty of child abuse in Sweden and sentenced to prison in the country.
Mother of the four children, Shalwati Norshal, 46, was handed a 14-month prison sentence for gross violation of the integrity of their daughter and eldest son, as well as of assault of their two younger sons.
Father Azizul Raheem Awalluddin, 38, in Sweden as a Tourism Malaysia director, was handed a sentence of 10 months' prison, convicted of gross violation of the integrity of his eldest son and the assault of his daughter and second-oldest son.
The couple were also ordered to pay damages to their children.
The Office of the Attorney General of Norway and The Ministry of Justice and Public Security did not respond to The Star's request for comments.