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Sunday, April 26, 2009

How Do French Muslims See the Virginity Case?

Compiled By Radwa Khorshid

Under French law, a marriage can be annulled if there has been "an error about the person or the essential qualities of the person."
In France, a court of appeal in Douai gave a verdict on the marriage of a young Muslim couple that comes against last May's original decision of Lille's court which annulled the marriage because the bride had lied about being a virgin.

According to the new court ruling, the couple remains effectively married, even though both partners have already moved on with their lives.

It is worth mentioning that the French Justice Minister, Rachida Dati, was the one who asked state prosecutors to file an appeal against the ruling annulling the marriage of the Muslim couple.

Under French law, a marriage can be annulled if there has been "an error about the person or the essential qualities of the person."

The law does not state what the essential qualities are but marriages have been annulled for reasons such as impotence, if a partner does not reveal a previous marriage or a child, or if the wife hides that she had been a prostitute. (IOL)'s European Muslims Page is presenting some of the French Muslim prominent figures' opinions about the challenges faced by French Muslims when it comes to the procedures required by European laws for marriage in general and this case in particular. Whether you are a French Muslim or a European Muslim facing, almost, the same challenge, you are invited to share with us your thoughts on this case through "Add Your Comment" tool or European Muslims e-mail.

This case may be seen by some French Muslims as a tiny private case, but definitely it has a significant meaning hidden behind it. I can see it as an exact replica of the usual Western tunnel vision of Islam and Muslims. Whether people who relate such a minor case to Islam and Muslims have goodwill or not, they always, mistakenly, mix between Muslim women's troubles and Islam as a religion.

I believe some of the media outlets make the most use of these minor cases to attract more audience. Moreover, they should be bearing in mind that for any media outlet using the word Islam is now one of the key to guaranteed success especially post-9/11.

I also see those feminist movements' reactions toward the first verdict, which annulled the marriage, is an expected response which aims to hit back at French Muslim women's attack on the hijab law.

Further more, some media outlets focus on such cases in an attempt to divert attention away from some crucial cases that are relevant to French Muslims such as the equality between people of different religious beliefs, the discriminatory attitude towards Muslims in some cases, etc.

What happened yesterday is that a French court of appeal ruled against the verdict of Lille's court to annul the marriage of two young Muslim couple after the groom complained his bride was not virgin as she claimed before marriage. I believe the French secularism is recently having its own privacies which differentiate between the private life and another part of the same private life which is spent in public. The case of hijab in France is a very good example to what I am saying. Although the French constitution doesn't prevent hijab, or any religious symbol, inside French schools, a new law was issued by the French government, in 2004, preventing hijab in both primary and secondary state schools. This law is against the constitution and against the French Muslim women's rights.

However, French Muslims recognize the fact that they are living in "The State of Law," and they have to respect their government's regulations in order not to be punished. So to sum it up, I can say that French Muslims always take the Islamic rule: the necessities permit prohibitions into their consideration while being subjected to such verdicts and rules.

As a French Muslim, I don't see any problems with Shari`ah in this court case as it is a case of trust not Shri`ah. The real problem is with the people in France themselves; they are very much against Islam and Muslims and they always subject Muslims to condemnation. Any subject that has to do with Islam or even close to Islam heats a big controversy. The problem is not with Islam or virginity, but with French people being anti-Islam and Islamophobic. They seize any chance to say that Muslims are barbarians. I am really sorry for this Muslim couple.

When it comes to Muslims' marriage in France, I do think that although Muslims in France have to go through many procedures, both civil and Islamic procedures of marriage, to get married, yet, I don't see having Shari`ah courts in France must be given our priority at this very moment especially that we overcome this through Islamic illegal marriage under the supervision of imams. Struggling against Islamophobia in France must be our first priority.

Based on the fact that we live in a secular country that accepts only civil marriage, I don't see any problem with this verdict. I agree that the court might have been affected by the debate over this case from the very beginning, but still, the case must remain a private case that should concern only this Muslim couple .

I call for equality between French citizens, from different religious back grounds and of different origins, when it comes to citizenship, this topic must be placed at the top of the French Muslims' agenda instead of the civil marriage issue.

According to Dr. Al-Qaradawi's fiqh of Muslim minorities, "the marriage in the West is a civil marriage." I personally go for civil marriage as I believe that civil marriage is a significant way to save French Muslim women's rights especially when the alternative is unofficial or temporary marriage. Virginity is not a requirement for marriage in Islam and the Muslim couple's case is a very private case not to be discussed in public.
Source : IslamOnline

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