Denmark: Sharia divorce causes scandal

In Odense, the birthplace of the famous Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, the mayor, Peter Rahbæk Juel, lives “a bad fairy tale in the middle of XXIe century ”. An imam sent shockwaves through his city and the Scandinavian kingdom by drawing up a Sharia divorce deed. “I had a stomach ache reading this document” in Arabic signed by the Danish Imam Abu Bashar, alias Mohamad Al-Khaled Samha, confides the city councilor.

Of Syrian origin, the religious is a controversial figure in Denmark. He is part of a delegation of religious who visited Egypt, Lebanon and Syria at the end of 2005 to mobilize support for a movement of protests against the publication of 12 cartoons of Muhammad published a few months earlier in the daily. Jyllands-Posten.

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In the divorce case, a three-page document in Arabic, revealed by the newspaper Berlingske Tidende, indicates that the young woman wishing to divorce accepted a series of conditions based on the Sharia, in particular the payment of 75,000 crowns (10,000 euros) to her ex-husband, corresponding to the dowry of the marriage.

She also agrees to lose custody of her two children if she marries another man. […], if she moves more than 130 kilometers from her former home in Vollsmose (suburb of Aarhus) or if she behaves in a way that damages her honor and that of her family. The divorce will also be annulled if “she does not teach her children the Koran, the Arabic language and does not teach them to pray five times a day”.

How many such divorces?

For the mayor, “this psychological violence, perpetrated by means of Sharia law, is unacceptable”. In fact, “this woman has not divorced, she is subject to the control of her husband and her imam”, he notes. This is why he lodged a complaint with the police, on behalf of the municipality, against the imam for “mental violence” against this woman, an offense punishable by a fine and up to three years in prison. . “It is important,” he said, “to send a clear signal to imams and preachers who practice Sharia law to remind them that it is punishable in Denmark. “

Indeed, this case would not be unique, according to the city councilor, who wonders “how many other divorces of this type have been concluded” in his city which has been fighting for several years to break the parallel society which reigns with its laws in ghettos as in Vollsmose.

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The affair caused a stir within the government and on the parliamentary scene. “Sharia law oppresses women and has no place in Denmark,” Social Democratic Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen hammered on her Facebook page. “In government, we will do everything in our power to put an end to this practice which confirms our fears about the undemocratic tendencies that exist in some parts of the country. An imam should not interfere with divorces at all. It is a choice to be made only by the two people and by no one else, ”she thunders.

According to Berlingske Tidende, there are secret religious councils in Denmark that help maintain negative social control by, among other things, denying divorce to abused women. A reality confirmed by a January 2020 report from the National Center for Research and Analysis for Social Welfare (VIVE) commissioned by the Ministry of Immigration and Integration and showing that “divorced ethnic minority women are victims of violence and oppression, do not know their rights and find it difficult to get help with divorce ”. And, if the couple were “married in a religious ceremony and the man does not want to dissolve the marriage, he can keep the woman in the marriage relationship against her will,” the document said.

“We are living in 2020, not in the Middle Ages! “

For Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye, “this report is shocking. We live in 2020, not in the Middle Ages! Oppressed women must know their rights and must decide for themselves whether they want to divorce ”. And his colleague from Gender Equality, Mogens Jensen, adds: “Stories of women who, against their will, are taken into a marriage because their equal right to divorce is not recognized by the family or their environment. are unacceptable in Denmark. “

Contacted by Point by telephone and e-mail, the incriminated imam, unreachable by the Danish media, remained walled in his silence.

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