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French Muslims sue hospital for handicapped son

Father refused male doctor during labor

A French Muslim couple who sued a hospital after their son was born handicapped were turned down Tuesday on the grounds they refused the presence of a male doctor during labor.

Mohammed Ijjou was born severely handicapped on November 8, 1998 as a result of neurological complications during birth.

According to the appeal court ruling, his father Radouane Ijjou physically barred a male intern from entering his wife's room for half an hour, citing religious reasons, after a midwife asked for help with the labor.

The court in Lyon rejected the couple's demand for compensation, ruling that "the child's condition is totally due to the attitude of Radouane Ijjou" and that the pair could not hold the hospital responsible.

They were ordered to pay 1,000 euros (1,500 dollars) in court costs.

The ruling said the father's attitude had prevented the hospital from carrying out tests that could have prevented the complications.

"This is a very hard decision. This child is being told he has no one to blame but his parents," said the couple's lawyer Isabelle Damiano.

The couple, whose request for damages was rejected once before in May 2006, were seeking 100,000 euros from the hospital in Bourg-en-Bresse in eastern France.