mahihaber Lebanese Split Over ‘Civil Marriage’ Debate as Middle East Watches - Mahihaber

Lebanese Split Over ‘Civil Marriage’ Debate as Middle East Watches

The debate on “Civil Marriage” has been sparked all over again among Lebanese after the interior minister’s remarks on her intention to raise the issue to authorities so it gets recognized.

On Friday, the newly-appointed Interior Minister, Raya al-Hassan, appeared on an interview with Euronews where she vowed to raise the civil marriage issue to religious authorities with the support of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

“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 PM Hariri until civil marriage is recognized.”

The Arab world's first female interior minister’s remarks have taken the Lebanese public scene by storm, as civil marriage excludes any restrictions regarding religion, sect, race or any other restriction in marriages in a challenge to the religious authorities.

Prominent public figures went to social media in support of the minister who faced fierce attack for expressing an opinion.

Translation: “Can we express opinions on civil marriage without being accused of atonement. Yes, I support an optional civil marriage choice and an amended civil personal status law and stop using religion to draw more division.”

Meanwhile, some took a neutral position, yet expressed support for freedom of expression.

Many also confirmed that offering civil marriage as an alternative will not violate any religious authority. It will offer all choices to those who are getting married and if they want to get married in the church or by the sheikh they have the freedom of choice.

Translation: “If the civil marriage approval would be optional, why are religious authorities all upset about it? No one is going to get a civil marriage unless they choose to do so, what are they afraid of? Maybe because they know that many people will actually choose to be free from religious stricts.”

However, it was different with religious authorities. As Lebanon is known for its religious diversity, many Christian and Muslim authorities condemned the remarks of Raya al-Hassan describing civil marriage as a violation of the religions.

Translation: “The church clerics argument on civil marriage that it is a holy sacraments is funny. What is this sacraments that costs you this big amount of money, and if a divorce is going to take place, people will pay thousands of dollars to priests so they can approve the case. Yes for civil marriage.”

According to the current system, Muslim women are not allowed to marry a man from any other sect or religion, however, under the civil marriage law, interreligious marriages would be allowed as well as divorces that would be granted for reasons other than the church’s.

Amid rising voices calling for a separation between religion and state and a law that will allow civil marriages to take place in the country, a notable number of civil marriages have been carried out outside Lebanon.

It is not only an issue in Lebanon, several couples challenged the society and the government in different parts of the Middle East where they travel to nearby countries; mostly to Cyprus or Turkey to get an official civil marriage and then return to get into an endless paperwork to get the marriage recognized or approved.
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