New French Muslim chief on the “virginity lie” case
Mohammed Moussaoui, the newly elected head of France’s Muslim council CFCM, has lost no time in criticising the case of a Muslim husband who had his marriage annulled because his wife had lied about being a virgin. The “virginity lie” case caused uproar in France, where critics warned against letting religious issues creep into civil law. Under public pressure, Justice Minister Rachida Dati (herself a Muslim who had a marriage annulled), dropped her original positive assessment and had the decision overturned. The couple remains married until September, when the case will be considered again.
Asked about the case, Moussaoui told the Paris daily Le Figaro: “These people confuse customs and religion. Chastity is recommended for the man and the woman, but it is not a condition for a Muslim marriage. A man loves a women as she is, virgin or not.”
National Muslim leaders in France were notably silent about the issue when it flared up. One of the few who did say anything, Fouad Aloui of the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF), was the main rival to Moussaoui in the recent election as CFCM president. All he said was: “This is not a religious case. It is a legal decision based on the law, so it is up to the judge to decide.” That sounds like an indirect approval of the decision, although it must be said he sounded quite reluctant to talk about it at all (here France Info audio in French).
If the CFCM does get more active, as Moussaoui has pledged to do, it might be logical to call him to testify at the appeal. That could be interesting because his statement could be interpreted in two ways. By saying a preference for virgins is a custom and not based on Islam, he could be called by the defence lawyer who argued religion should play no role in the court’s deliberations. But by saying virginity is not a condition for a Muslim marriage, he could equally testify for a prosecutor arguing the man had no right to an annulment based on the idea that virginity was an “essential quality” of a bride.
The appeal is coming up in late September. Watch this space.