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German judge cites Quran in divorce case

LAHORE: He beat her and threatened her with murder. But because husband and wife were both from Morocco, a German divorce court judge saw no cause for alarm. It’s a religion thing, she argued, according to a report published on the German news site, SPIEGEL ONLINE.

The case seems simply too strange to be true. A 26-year-old mother of two wanted to free herself from what had become a miserable and abusive marriage. The police had even been called to their apartment to separate the two – both of Moroccan origin – after her husband got violent in May 2006. The husband was forced to move out, but the terror continued: Even after they separated, the spurned husband threatened to kill his wife.

A quick divorce seemed to be the only solution – the 26-year-old was unwilling to wait the year between separation and divorce mandated by German law. She hoped that as soon as they were no longer married, her husband would leave her alone. Her lawyer, Barbara Becker-Rojczyk agreed and she filed for immediate divorce with a Frankfurt court last October. They both felt that the domestic violence and death threats easily fulfilled the “hardship” criteria necessary for such an accelerated split. In January, though, a letter arrived from the judge adjudicating the case. The judge rejected the application for a speedy divorce by referring to a passage in the holy Quran that some have controversially interpreted to mean that a husband can beat his wife. It’s a supposed right which is the subject of intense debate among Muslim scholars and clerics alike.

‘The husband can beat his wife’: “The right to castigate means for me: the husband can beat his wife,” Becker-Rojczyk said, interpreting the judge’s verdict.

In an interview with the news site, Becker-Rojczyk said the judge indicated to her that it made no sense to insist on an accelerated divorce. The judge’s advice? Wait for the yearlong waiting period to elapse. The lawyer and her client were shocked. Immediately, they filed a claim alleging that the judge should have recused herself due to a conflict of interest. They felt that, because of the point of view presented by the judge, she was unable to reach an objective verdict. In the reply sent to Becker-Rojczyk, the judge expressly referred to a holy Quran verse, which indicates that a man’s honour is injured when his wife behaves in an unchaste manner. “Apparently the judge deems it unchaste when my client adapts a Western lifestyle,” Becker-Rojczyk said.

On Tuesday evening, Becker-Rojczyk expressed amazement that the judge was still on the bench, given that the controversial verdict was handed down weeks ago. Becker-Rojczyk had elected to go public with the case to attract attention to the judge’s conduct. It seems to have worked. On Wednesday, numerous politicians in Berlin voiced their horror at the verdict – and demanded disciplinary action against the judge.

Source: Daily Times

Date:3/23/2007

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