150 MEPs decry French court annulment of non-virgin's marriage

9th June 2008, Comments 0 comments

Some 150 members of the European Parliament have sent a petition to the French justice minister denouncing a court's annulment of a non-virgin marriage.

9 June 200

BRUSSELS - Some 150 members of the European Parliament have sent a petition to the French justice minister denouncing a court's annulment of a marriage on the grounds that the Muslim bride was not a virgin.

"It is a dangerous precedent that can only comfort fundamentalists in their archaic fight whilst the main barrier against this fanatism should precisely be the law," the signatories said in their position to Justice Minister Rachida Dati.

"The virginity of a woman is not an essential condition of the person. It is not either for a man," they said in their statement.

"We witness here a serious regression against which we wish to rise up," the statement added.

The text has so far been signed by some 150 members of the European Parliament, almost a fifth of all MEPs, from various member states and political groups including the socialists, conservatives, liberals, communists and Greens.

The annulment was granted in April by a court in the northern French city of Lille but news of it reached the French media only last week. The husband, an engineer in his thirties who has not been named, requested it because he realised his new bride, also a Muslim, was not a virgin on their wedding night in July 2006.

The woman later admitted to him she had had pre-marital sex.

The court granted the request after ruling that the man's belief in the woman's virginity was a "determining factor" in his decision to marry her.

The ruling did not mention the couple's religion.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday flew to the support of his Muslim-born justice minister, Rachida Dati who has drawn furious protests from women's rights groups and elsewhere for refusing to condemn the court's ruling.

Dati bowed to the public uproar over the annulment case Monday by ordering an appeal, but has continued to insist the ruling was legally sound, based on a breach of trust between the pair, not the issue of virginity itself.

[AFP / Expatica]

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