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Haredi Orthodox Frenchman says he was barred from seeing son due to religion

(JTA) — A divorced haredi Orthodox man says he has been barred from seeing his son because of the father’s religious lifestyle and appearance.

Richard Dray, 45, who adopted a more haredi lifestyle following his recent divorce, told the local La Depeche daily on Monday that social services in Toulouse barred him three weeks ago from realizing his court-awarded right to visit his 12-year-son.

Child welfare services placed the boy in foster care this year following “behavior problems.” 

Dray says social services began preventing him from seeing his son after he told the boy over the telephone “not to worry because everything that happens to us is a trial by God for us to pass.” 

The conversation was recorded by social services, Dray said, adding that he was contacted after the talk by a social welfare worker who told him he was radicalizing the boy with “dangerous” messages.

A spokesperson for the municipality declined to comment to La Depeche on the case, citing “privacy issues,” but told the newspaper that the city was aware of the case and was acting “within its mandate.”

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