May 14 2013
According to De Volkskrant, during a meeting on honor-related violence held by the social affairs ministry, police announced that they had supported an underage girl’s Islamic marriage. The Pakistani girl, who was in love with a Pakistani Hindu boy in her neighbourhood, was resisting a planned marriage to a cousin in Pakistan. Police brought her to a secret location, because her family threatened to kill her. The parents supported their daughter’s choice of partner on the grounds that the daughter would have an Islamic wedding. As a result, the couple married in an Islamic ceremony, though the girl was underage and in the Netherlands the performance of a religious marriage without a preceding civil marriage is an offence.
A growing number of young Muslims in the UK are entering marriages that are not legally recognized. This is because couples are having an Islamic wedding (nikah) without the civil ceremony needed for the marriage to be recognized under British law.
Family lawyer Aina Khan says that she is dealing with an increasing number of cases where mostly young Muslims have a nikah, planning to have a civil ceremony later, but then never to it. She said: “‘My colleagues and I are having to deal with hundreds of cases where things have gone wrong because the wedding has not been registered.”
Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, the head of Britain’s Muslim Parliament, says the lives of many Muslim women are being ruined because their Islamic marriages are not legally recognized. “This allows Muslim men to control their wives because they can threaten to leave them and end the Islamic marriage by just saying the words ‘divorce, divorce divorce’ to her,” he said. He furthermore claims that this practice fosters polygamy.
The imam at the Al Badr mosque in Meaux (Seine-et-Marne) is under investigation for performing religious marriage ceremonies prior to the civil ceremonies, and for the falsely collecting unemployment assistance. Nourdine Mamoun, of French nationality, has been charged with undertaking eight illegal marriages between January 2006 and December 2007 and for unjustly receiving monthly social assistance of 930 Euros beginning in August 2007. Earlier in the week approximately 90 local Muslims in Meaux protested in support of Mamoun.
Mamoun’s lawyer, Henri Gerphagnon, indicated to the press that Mamoun did not have a work contract and was working as a volunteer imam, while receiving a few donations from among the 1000 Muslims who typically attend the mosque.
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In response to questions about informal marriages in the Netherlands, Minister of Justice Ernst Hirsch Ballin said that those who contract informal Muslim marriages should not be punished, but fought with dialogue and information. Hirsch Ballin answered the parliamentary questions of two Labor Party members, who said that they fear informal Muslim marriages could cause forces marriages and polygamy. By law, it is forbidden to contract marriages without being registered; a religious marriage is allowed, but only if it is preceded by a civil marriages.