French Muslim rejects polygamist charge, says has wife and 3 lovers

April 26, 2010
Lies Hebbadj

Liès Hebbadj and his wife Anne after she was fined for wearing a niqab while driving, in Nantes on April 26, 2010/Stephane Mahe

France’s debate about Muslim face veils has taken an ironic twist. An Algerian-born Muslim man who is a naturalised French citizen has fought back against charges of polygamy by saying he doesn’t have four wives, but one wife and three mistresses (and 12 children among them). What could be more French than that? he asked journalists on Monday as politicians debated how they could strip him of his citizenship.

“If one can be stripped of one’s French nationality for having mistresses, then many French could lose theirs,” Liès Hebbadj, a halal butcher in the western city of Nantes, said after visiting the lawyer for his wife, who was fined for driving while wearing a full facial veil.

That moving violation is what got this curious story rolling. After Mrs. Hebbadj — a French-born woman who goes by the assumed name Anne in this saga — was fined, it emerged that her husband was believed to be a polygamist drawing family support payments for each wife separately.  The DWV (driving while veiled) charge would have been enough to fan the fire of a national debate about banning full facial veils such as niqabs or burqas.

The polygamy link suddenly added additional fuel. Indeed, it seems to have overtaken the debate among the politicians in Paris. It’s hard to say what will happen, but this could lead to closer scrutiny of polygamy among immigrants, in addition to the “burqa ban” that President Nicolas Sarkozy seems intent to push through. There appears to be some polygamy among a tiny minority of Muslim and non-Muslim African immigrants, but I haven’t seen any overall figures on this. The police intelligence services may have their own internal figure, but it hasn’t become a media factoid yet like their famous 2,000 guesstimate for veiled women.

mitterrand funeral

At Mitterrand's funeral in Jarnac, his wife Danielle (centre, with white scarf), to the right their son Jean-Christophe, then Mitterrand's daughter (out of wedlock) Mazarine, her mother Anne Pingeot (standing a step back, with black hat), and then Mitterrand's other son by Danielle, Gilbert, 11 January 1996/Philippe Wojazer

If this is the opening shot in a wider debate about polygamy, Hebbadj has responded with an interesting push-back. It wasn’t too long ago — 1996, in fact — that former President François Mitterrand’s longtime mistress and their daughter very publicly walked in his funeral procession. The out-of-wedlock daughter Mazarine walked in the front row, with the president’s widow Danielle and Mitterrand’s two sons by her, while Mazarine’s mother Anne Pingeot followed only a step or two behind.

Hebbadj became a French citizen by marrying the French-born Anne in a civil ceremony in 1999. The civil marriage ceremony is the only one recognised by the French state and even couples who want a religious ceremony must first go to city hall to tie the knot legally. So if Hebbadj did this, what he did with the other women should arguably be his own business. Even if he had Islamic religious ceremonies for the other, what should that mean for the French authorities? They always say religious marriages are irrelevant in their eyes.

Naturalised citizens can have their French passport taken away if they acquired it through fraud — if, for example, Hebbadj hid an existing marriage when he married Anne. Officials in Nantes are presumably searching through their files right now to see if he had civil ceremonies with the other women. If he did, he could be heading back to his native Algeria sometime soon.

He may be headed there even if he didn’t. The French have a way of imposing unwritten standards on society that conform to the majority view, no matter what any clever legal argument against it says. Just ask the Sikhs here. The French have banned their  turbans from state schools as religious symbols (under the same law that banned headscarves for Muslim girls), even though it is the uncut hair, and not the cloth used to contain it, that is the statement of faith for Sikhs.

Here’s a Reuters video on government plans to introduce a ban on full facial veils such as niqabs or burqas:

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5 comments

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I think I understand the French view of separation of church, however, why are they going after such a small minority?

On a separate note, I would not want someone’s ability to drive a motor vehicle to be affected by what they where, burqua or earphones in the ear.

Also, I think it’s a hilarious double standard. It has been proven as illustrated in this column that French politicians have their spouses and their lovers on the side.

Posted by Tallangel | Report as abusive

“Hebbadj… was believed to be a polygamist drawing family support payments for each wife separately.”

Looks like a case of welfare fraud, but how is the rest of this anybody’s business?

Still, Mr. Hebbadj seems to want it both ways. Islam is very much against having mistresses and children out of wedlock, even if the French state has no problems with that.

Islam also demands that one obey local laws. Mr Hebbadj has painted himself into a corner where he is either a polygamist — and as a lawbreaker defying the Qur’an — or he is an adulterer and defying the Qur’an. He can wiggle through loopholes in the law, and lie to the press (Lying is also very un-Islamic!) but in the end Allah will know and judge.

Neither does Islam mandate the niqab. Islamic modesty codes as revealed in the noble Qur’an are much less stringent. Driving with headwear that impedes vision is obviously a public danger and at security checkpoints it is reasonable to insist on faces being visible. Still where there is no good, specific reason to the contrary women should be able to wear whatever they want. General laws against the niqab only polarize and make a mountain out of a molehill.

Posted by starjack | Report as abusive

Islam says to obey the law of the land as long as it is not going against Allah’s laws! People kill me because you can accept him having mistresses but you refuse to accept him being a responsible man and taking on the responsibility of other women.

Here in the USA there are 7.8 million more women then men and this does not include those who are gay, and in jail. What are women suppose to do accept the fact that they will never be married or will responsible men be allowed to care for these women.

You have women who already sleep around with married men and she is kept as a secrect until the man dies or something in that nature happens and he is taken very good care of her if he is a responsible man, and if you think that your husband and or boyfriend do not have another woman on the side then I really feel sorry for you.

Allah swt did not make men to be monogamous, and this may be a hard pill for a lot of women to swallow but it’s the truth why do you think that polygyny/polygamy was made permissable by Allah swt?

The sad thing is, is that many women close the door and try to deny their husband from marrying another women when he has a God given right sista’s and if you think for one second that you will not answer to Allah swt for that then you are committing khuf(disbelief). There are too many single muslimah’s out there that need a husband little muslim children who wants a father figure but you turn your back on them.

Our prophet Muhammad (saw) said whoever do not want his brother what he want for hisself do not believe, and guess what sista’s by the way he’s talking to us as well

Prophet Muhammad (saw) says ” whoever rejects my Sunnah is not of me, and guess what sista’s POLYGYNY/POLYGAMY is a part of his Sunnah.

So I strongly advise the Muslims and the Muslimah’s to start fearing Allah swt more than you fear these people because with Allah NO ONE can touch you no matter how hard they try to harm you Allah swt will protect you but you must believe in Him and fear Him ALONE Oh you who believe
As’Sallamu Alaikum

Posted by azizah99 | Report as abusive

If we as Muslimah’s have the right to wear our niqabs and or burqas if we so chooses.

We have the God given right to cover our bodys the way that we see fit!

We have the right to practice our religion!

Your government is opressing Muslim women by telling us that we can’t cover our faces!

Covering our faces is not opressing us, are we required to cover our faces, we are required to keep our modesty and to protect it. men are atracted to womens looks and the face is the first thing they see and if they the men are atracted to our looks then we cover ourselves and keep our modest.

I personally cover my face because I do not like any man looking at me only my husband, and just so many of you will know I wasn’t brought up a Muslim my mother was christian but to say this to many women in the world today just freely show off their body so many are raped and molested. Do it give the man the right no it doesn’t but are you helping them? Are you making it easy for them to rape and molest you? Who do you think a man with that kind of sickness in his heart will come after first a naked woman or a woman who has on all of these clothing that by the time he get her undress he’s either caught or to tired to rape her

LEAVE US ALONE AND LET US COVER

Posted by azizah99 | Report as abusive

Liès Hebbadj who is a muslim,is a polygamist and he knows it. He is milking France to pay for his twisted life style. And he will be lying all the way to the bank. It is true that Muslims are permitted to lie. In Islam a Muslim can speak as lie but in three cases: In battle, the words of the husband to his wife, the words of a wife to her husband (and among friends) (Sahid Muslim, Book 032, Number 6303)
Islam’s “Noble” Qur’an also tells Muslims to lie Qur’an (16:106) (40:28) (2:225) (66:2). Even the god of Islam is the best liar of them all. Qur’an (3:54) – “And they disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of “makara” which literally means deceiver”
Having read the comments posted by Muslims, it is horribly wrong if the only way to make your religion look good is to lie or be ignorant. Come all of you to the truth.

Posted by JoeJoeJoeSmith | Report as abusive