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Ed Webb

American Woman Loses Custody Battle for Daughter in Saudi Arabia - The New York Times - 0 views

  • as an American woman living in Saudi Arabia, Ms. Vierra has navigated a punishing legal maze ever since she first asked her Saudi ex-husband for a divorce in 2017, then opened custody proceedings last November
  • a Saudi judge awarded custody of Zeina to her father’s mother, who lives with him, despite video evidence Ms. Vierra submitted to the court that she said showed her ex-husband doing drugs and verbally abusing her in front of their daughter.
  • “Since the mother is new to Islam and a foreigner in this country and embraces customs and traditions in the way she was raised,” the judge wrote in his ruling, “we must avoid exposing Zeina to these traditions.”
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  • The guardianship system’s rules extend to women who marry Saudis, like Ms. Vierra, and their children, including dual citizens like Zeina. Even after they divorced last year, Ms. Vierra’s ex-husband, whom she married in 2013, remains her guardian and Zeina’s.Wielding his guardianship powers, he prevented her from going home to see her family at Christmas and let her legal residency expire, which left her stuck, unable to access her bank account or leave the country.
  • He told the court that Ms. Vierra, who is from Washington State but moved to the kingdom in 2011 to teach at a women’s university, did not speak Arabic well, and that she was an atheist.
  • He also submitted photos of her in a bikini, in yoga pants and with her hair uncovered — evidence of suspect or forbidden dress in a country that requires women to wear loose abayas in public.
  • Ms. Vierra said the photos were taken in the United States and were from her private social media accounts.
  • The court accepted his testimony at face value, she said, while hers was legally worthless unless she could bring in male witnesses to back her up.
  • he accused her in court of giving him the drugs and of forcing him to say he was an atheist, both of which Ms. Vierra denies.
  • “It’s videos versus male witnesses,” Ms. Vierra said. “They wouldn’t in some cases even look at the evidence that I had. It was just completely disregarded because he ‘swore to God.’ It’s all been infuriating.”
  • She had committed to a life in Saudi Arabia so that she could be with her daughter and Zeina could know her Saudi relatives, she said, and had also been proud to obtain a license to open her yoga studio, the first of its kind in the country.Now, she said, she felt everything she had done in good faith was being used against her.
Ed Webb

Tunisian women's rights plan rattles Muslim traditionalists | Religion News Service - 0 views

  • An initiative by Tunisia’s president to make inheritance and marriage rules fairer to women is reverberating around the Muslim world, and risks dividing his country
  • He’s gambling that he could shepherd through such changes because his secular party is in a coalition with an Islamist one, and because his overwhelmingly Muslim country has a history of relatively progressive views toward women.
  • the Tunisian parliament has overturned the law that banned women from marrying non-Muslims
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  • Mainstream Muslim clerics almost universally see the inheritance rules as enshrined in the Quran, Islam’s holy book, and consider the rules on marriage to be equally unquestionable in Shariah. Most Muslim-majority countries in the Mideast and Asia enforce the rules since they use Shariah as the basis for personal status and family law
  • The first president of independent Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba, championed a landmark social code in 1956 that set a standard for the region by banning polygamy and granting new rights to women unheard of in the Arab world at the time. But even he didn’t dare push for equal inheritance.
  • the proposals sparked a heated debate on social media networks among Egyptians. Supporters of Essebsi’s initiative said Al-Azhar was showing its true colors as a bastion of religious militancy
  • Muslim parents who see the inheritance laws as unjust often resort to putting assets in their daughters’ names during their lifetimes. In Lebanon, some Sunni men convert to Shiism to take advantage of what they see as the minority sect’s more equal treatment of women when it comes to inheritance. Tunisia is overwhelmingly Sunni.
  • There are some Muslim theologians who argue that the one-half inheritance for women is not absolute in the Quran and that it is open for reinterpretation to fit the Quran’s requirements for justice and equality. Still, the mainstream view is deeply entrenched. In Tunisia, the country’s leading imams and theologians issued a statement denouncing the president’s proposals as a “flagrant violation of the precepts” of Islam.
  • Several analysts suggest the president is trying to win back support from women who supported him widely in 2014 elections for his modernizing program, but then grew disillusioned after he allied with the Islamist party.
Ed Webb

Coptic group rejects constitutional proposal that Christians be subject to the church i... - 0 views

  • Article 2 has become the subject of a new Coptic-Coptic dispute after an obscure Coptic group, dubbed the '38 Copts Association,' rejected the above-mentioned compromise. The group derives its name from a 1938 decree by the Coptic Church's Holy Synod – later overturned by late Coptic Pope Shenouda III – granting Copts the right to divorce.
  • The group demands that, as Egyptians, they should be constitutionally subject to Islamic Law, which – unlike Coptic law – allows for divorce
  • "There is no such thing as Christian jurisprudence. For this reason, the Bible instructs us to adhere to the laws of the state."
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  • At one point, an argument erupted between group members and Judge Edward Ghaleb, who serves as both head of the Coptic Church's lay council and head of the Constituent Assembly's rights and freedoms committee. According to Ghaleb, the group's grievances are of an "individual" nature, while the constitution is meant to address general principles. He added that the assembly would look into Coptic grievances, but stressed that the new charter was being written "for all Egyptians."
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