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Thursday Jan. 20, 2011 2:50 PM (EST+7)
Palestinian couple's marriage dissolved for apostasy

Read more: courts, law, human rights, civil rights, marriage, divorce, Islamic law, sharia, Islamic courts, Ahmadi

RAMALLAH, January 20 (JMCC) - A West Bank couple, members of a Muslim sect rejected by the Muslim mainstream, has been forcible divorced by a Palestinian court that has determined they are not Muslims, reports the Associated Press.

The Alawnehs converted to the Ahmadi sect separately six years ago, marrying in 2009. Both faced insults and death threats from Muslim preachers when news of their conversions filtered out, they said. Mohammed's family renounced them. Some of Samah's colleagues at the university where she works shun her, though others do not.

Then last year, a prosecutor in the local Islamic court, which regulates Muslim marriages, filed a complaint against them, accusing them of apostasy. They were found guilty in August, according to documents the couple showed The Associated Press.

The court forcibly divorced the couple by cancelling their marriage registration, because they were no longer considered Muslims.

The Alawnehs say the complaint against them was initiated by Mohammed Alawneh's first wife, who was upset by his decision to take another wife. Islamic law permits a man to have up to four wives.

The Palestinian Authority does not authorize civil marriage. All marriages must be registered with the government-funded Islamic courts or a Christian church.

That means that the couple have no chance of ever legalizing their marriage in the West Bank, said their lawyer, Gandi Rabai. The couple may go abroad to marry, but so far, they have chosen to try to battle the issue in Palestinian courts, believing it is their right to marry freely in the West Bank, Rabai said.







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