01/11/2013 04:17 pm ET

Puerto Rico Custody Battle Rages After Father Argues Island Too Violent For Son

A controversy is brewing in Puerto Rico, where a mother was jailed after refusing to return her 5-year-old son to the mainland United States to be with his his father, who won custody partially on the argument that the island is too dangerous and his child would have a bad education there.

University professor Maha Abdel Rahim spent the night in prison without bail on Thursday, after defying an order from a California judge to return her son Kamal to the child’s father Rasim Hallum. Abdel Rahim accuses the father of abusing the child, an allegation that authorities do not confirm, according to Primera Hora.

"He's in danger," Abdel Rahim said of her son, according to Puerto Rican daily El Nuevo Día. "There's many things I can't say publicly."

“The kid didn’t want to leave,” Abdel Rahim’s sister Muna said through tears, according to El Nuevo Día.

The case has exposed tensions between the mainland United States and Puerto Rico that were on full display in November, after a controversial vote on the island's political status.

The island’s Department of the Family, a government agency that is currently holding Kamal, denounced the argument that the child was unsafe in Puerto Rico when the argument was made public.

“We don’t doubt that the child’s well-being is better guaranteed in Puerto Rico than in any other place,” Iván Crespo Arroyo of the Department of the Family told Primera Hora in May.

Puerto Rico reported a record-high murder rate of 26.2 per 100,000 residents in 2011 in comparison with the city of Los Angeles, which has a similar population number and obtained a rate of 7.7 during the same year.



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