Top Yemeni clerics oppose ban on child brides

It won’t happen. Change won’t come to Yemen as long as the clerics have a say. Muhammad married Aisha when she was 6 and consummated the marriage when she was nine. And every Mohammedan seeks to emulate the prophet, because he was the perfect man……

Yemeni women hold up the Quran and Arabic placard reading “yes to the legal rights of the Muslim woman” as they take part in a protest outside the parliament in San’a, Sunday, March 21, 2010. Some of Yemen’s most influential Islamic leaders, including one the U.S. says mentored Osama bin Laden, have declared supporters of a ban on child brides to be apostates. The religious decree, issued Sunday, deeply imperils efforts to salvage legislation that would make it illegal for those under the age of 17 to marry.

Shake & Bake women of Yemen from Vlad Tepes on Vimeo.

Associated Press Writers

SAN’A, Yemen (AP) — Some of Yemen’s most influential Islamic leaders, including one the U.S. says mentored Osama bin Laden, have declared supporters of a ban on child brides to be apostates.

Under the Islamic system, apostates must be killed.

The religious decree, issued Sunday, deeply imperils efforts to salvage legislation that would make it illegal for those under the age of 17 to marry.

The practice is widespread in Yemen and has been particularly hard to discourage in part because of the country’s gripping poverty – bride-prices in the hundreds of dollars are especially difficult for poor families to pass up.

More than a quarter of Yemen’s females marry before age 15, according to a report last year by the Social Affairs Ministry. Tribal custom also plays a role, including the belief that a young bride can be shaped into an obedient wife, bear more children and be kept away from temptation.

A February 2009 law set the minimum age for marriage at 17, but it was repealed and sent back to parliament’s constitutional committee for review after some lawmakers called it un-Islamic. The committee is expected to make a final decision on the legislation next month.

Some of the clerics who signed Sunday’s decree sit on the committee.

The group behind the declaration also includes Yemen’s most influential cleric, Sheik Abdul-Majid al-Zindani, whom the United States has branded a spiritual mentor of bin Laden. Al-Zindani denies being a member of al-Qaida.

In a further challenge to the rights groups pushing for a ban, government officials are reluctant to challenge al-Zindani and other conservative tribal and religious figures whose support they need to hold onto power in the fragile nation.

The religious leaders organized a protest against the legislation on Sunday by a group of women. Hidden behind black face veils and robes, the women carried signs that read “Yes to the Islamic rights of women.”

“I was married at 15 and have many children now,” said one of the women, Umm Abdul-Rahman. “And I will marry my daughter at the same age if I decide she is ready for it.”

The issue of Yemen’s child brides vaulted into the headlines three years ago when an 8-year-old girl boldly went by herself to a courtroom and demanded a judge dissolve her marriage to a man in his 30s. She eventually won a divorce, and legislators began looking at ways to curb the practice.

In September, a 12-year-old Yemeni child-bride died after struggling for three days in labor to give birth, a local human rights organization said.

A rights group pushing for a ban planned a protest for Tuesday.

“The government has two options: to give girls in Yemen a chance at life or to condemn them to a death sentence,” said Amal Basha, chairwoman of the group, Sisters Arab Forum in Yemen.

Yemen once set 15 as the minimum age for marriage, but parliament annulled that law in the 1990s, saying parents should decide when a daughter marries.

Al-Shalchi reported from Cairo.


Tarek Fatah, call your office: Muslim leaders in Yemen say those who support ban on child marriage are apostates

We also have this:

Women oppose child marriage ban

SANAA (Yemen) – THOUSANDS of Yemeni women, their faces covered in religious veils, demonstrated outside the parliament on Sunday to oppose proposed legislation banning the marriage of girls under 17.

The protesters held up banners proclaiming ‘don’t ban what Allah made permissible,’ or ‘stop violating Islamic sharia law in the name of rights and freedoms,’ an AFP correspondent said. Answering calls by Muslim clerics who oppose the proposal on grounds it goes against Islamic sharia law, the protesters arrived in organised buses. Straits Times

JW update:

Now wait a minute. The exemplary Moderate Muslim Tarek Fatah just grew monumentally indignant when Wafa Sultan dared to point out that (as is recorded in the earliest, most reliable Islamic sources) Muhammad was 54 when he consummated his marriage with the nine-year-old Aisha. Fatah assured us greasy Islamophobes that Aisha was actually fourteen or fifteen at the time she married Muhammad.

But then why do the Islamic leaders in Yemen not seem to understand this? In Islam, Muhammad is the supreme example of conduct (cf. Qur’an 33:21). Thus he is exemplary even in his marriage to a child: Muslims take this seriously and imitate Muhammad in this. Article 1041 of the Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran states that girls can be engaged before the age of nine, and married at nine: “Marriage before puberty (nine full lunar years for girls) is prohibited. Marriage contracted before reaching puberty with the permission of the guardian is valid provided that the interests of the ward are duly observed.”

The Ayatollah Khomeini himself married a ten-year-old girl when he was twenty-eight. Khomeini called marriage to a prepubescent girl “a divine blessing,” and advised the faithful: “Do your best to ensure that your daughters do not see their first blood in your house.”

Time magazine reported in 2001: “In Iran the legal age for marriage is nine for girls, fourteen for boys. The law has occasionally been exploited by pedophiles, who marry poor young girls from the provinces, use and then abandon them. In 2000 the Iranian Parliament voted to raise the minimum age for girls to fourteen, but this year, a legislative oversight body dominated by traditional clerics vetoed the move. An attempt by conservatives to abolish Yemen’s legal minimum age of fifteen for girls failed, but local experts say it is rarely enforced anyway. (The onset of puberty is considered an appropriate time for a marriage to be consummated.)”

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that over half of the girls in Afghanistan and Bangladesh are married before they reach the age of eighteen. In early 2002, researchers in refugee camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan found half the girls married by age thirteen. In an Afghan refugee camp, more than two out of three second-grade girls were either married or engaged, and virtually all the girls who were beyond second grade were already married. One ten-year-old was engaged to a man of sixty.

And now Islamic clerics in Yemen say that to oppose child marriage takes one out of Islam.

What would the exemplary Moderate Muslim Tarek Fatah say to them? What do you bet that if he responds to this at all, it will be not by saying anything to them at all, but by calling me names — the way Moderate Muslim spokesmen in the West always respond to such challenges?

“Yemen: Ban on Child Brides Is Imperiled,” from the Associated Press, March 22 (thanks to all who sent this in):

Some of Yemen’s most influential Muslim leaders have declared supporters of a ban on child brides to be apostates. The religious decree, issued Sunday, imperils efforts to salvage legislation that would make marriage illegal for people younger than 17. A 2009 law that did that was repealed and sent back to Parliament’s constitutional committee for review after some lawmakers called it un-Islamic….

One thought on “Top Yemeni clerics oppose ban on child brides”

  1. It seems that the women who are oppressed unler islam will have to stand and fight for their rights – they will get little help from the islamic male and, because of the PC disease sweeping the West, we will do little to help these folks either. Shrilary Cliton will of course caterwaul in their direction.

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