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Civil Marriage Proposal Triggers Dispute between Lebanon’s Religious, Political Authorities

Civil Marriage Proposal Triggers Dispute between Lebanon’s Religious, Political Authorities

Tuesday, 19 February, 2019 - 10:15
Lebanese Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan. (AP)
Beirut - Youssef Diab
A recent stance by Lebanon’s Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan over optional civil marriage has sparked a wave of support among political, social and civil circles, in contrast to stark rejection by the country’s religious authorities, mainly Dar Al-Fatwa, which said that such law would contradict the Islamic Sharia and the Lebanese Constitution.

“I will try to open the door to a serious and deep dialogue on this issue with all religious and other authorities, and with the support of Prime Minister Saad Hariri until civil marriage is recognized,” Hassan said in an interview last week.

In response, Lebanon's highest Sunni religious authority, Dar Al-Fatwa, issued a statement on Monday, saying: “The stance of (Grand) Mufti (Sheikh Abdul Latif) Daryan, Dar al-Fatwa, the juristic council and the council of muftis, which categorically rejects and opposes civil marriage in Lebanon, has been well-known for years.”

The adoption of such a law “fully contradicts with the rules of Islamic Sharia and also violates the stipulations of the Lebanese Constitution in terms of the need to respect the personal status law that is applied by the religious courts,” the statement added.

“Accordingly, the draft law cannot be approved in parliament without taking into consideration the viewpoint and stance of Dar al-Fatwa and the rest of religious authorities in Lebanon,” it stressed.

Former Interior Minister Marwan Charbel strongly defended Hassan’s proposal, deeming it “a courageous step that must be supported.”

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, he explained that the Lebanese state “registers civil marriage contracts between Lebanese citizens married abroad,” adding that there were more than 3,000 marriage contracts registered in the courts.

“So why should we oppose the adoption of a law allowing the optional civil marriage when we can relieve the Lebanese from the costs of marriage abroad,” he asked.

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