2. Stop recognition by the Belgian administration of marriages contracted in islamic countries
Background: The Movement of Belgian Former Muslims wants to guarantee the freedoms of Belgian society for all residents on the Belgian territory and under Belgian jurisdiction. The Principles we advocate and adhere to are those established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Marriages contracted in Islamic countries do not accord with these principles, and hence we express our wish that the Belgian administration cease to officially acknowledge the legitimacy of such marriages.
Which countries are concerned? We express the wish that marriages contracted in any of the member nations of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that has drawn up the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, no longer be recognized as legitimate by the Belgian administration. The list of these countries may be consulted here.
Why? The nation signatories to the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam accept the Shari’ah as the basis for their legislation. They have established this in the following article:
The Islamic Shari'ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.
However, with regard to marriage, it should be recognized that the Shari’ah is contrary to the provisions in the UDHR in three areas:
1. In the Shari’ah, men and women do not enjoy identical rights. They do have their individual rights, but these are not equal. In practical terms, it means that a man is financially as well as morally responsible for the woman and the children’s maintenance and welfare, in exchange for which it is stated that the woman is placed under the obligation to obey and place her body at the man’s disposal for his sexual gratification. A man can divorce his spouse by a simple procedure, while a woman cannot do so.
The inequality in marriage between husband and wife is contrary to section 1 in article 16 of the UDHR:
1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam states in Article 6, in a subtle way, that men and women are not entitled to the same rights by proclaiming that a woman has her own rights and that the man is responsible for everything.
(a) Woman is equal to man in human dignity, and has her own rights to enjoy as well as duties to perform, and has her own civil entity and financial independence, and the right to retain her name and lineage.
(b) The husband is responsible for the maintenance and welfare of the family.
2. According to the Shari’ah, a woman does not herself conclude her marriage contract but this is done for her by a “custodian“, a male family member or by a judge. Hence, women are not free to decide whom to marry, in contrast to men. This is one of the principal points of discrimination against women in Islamic law.
This does not mean that all Muslim women wind up in forced marriages, but it does mean that a woman is not wholly free to choose a marriage partner because she always needs consent from a male family member on the father’s side or, ultimately, to take recourse to the courts in case she does not receive that approval. This is also counter to the above-mentioned article 16.1 in the second sentence of the UDHR that states that men and women have equal rights in marriage.
3. According to the Shari’ah, a Muslim woman may only marry a Muslim male. Again this is contrary to the above-mentioned article 16.1 of the UDHR where it is stated that religion must not be a hindrance to marriage. The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam has taken this into account and left out the mention of religion, which has been replaced by “colour”:
(a) The family is the foundation of society, and marriage is the basis of making a family. Men and women have the right to marriage, and no restrictions stemming from race, colour or nationality shall prevent them from exercising this right.
What this amounts to in reality is that a non-Muslim man can only marry a Muslim woman if he is willing to convert. We illustrate the problem by referring to a simple paradigm. Xavier is a Belgian male who became acquainted with a Belgian-Moroccan girl Zubayda. Zubayda was born in Belgium and holds dual nationality. She tried to divest herself of her Moroccan nationality but this proved impossible. Xavier and Zubayda get married and want their union to be registered at the Moroccan Consulate to make sure that Zubayda’s Moroccan papers are in order. At the consulate, Xavier is asked for his Certificate of Conversion to Islam. Without this certificate, Zubayda cannot get her papers. According to the Shari’ah, and hence also to Moroccan law, she can only marry a Muslim. It is thus clear that Morocco requires a Belgian citizen to convert to Islam in order to regularize the papers of his likewise Belgian spouse. This is indeed what Islamic nations demand, thus also the Consulates or the Embassies of these Islamic countries in Belgium. Otherwise, the marriage of the Belgian Muslim woman with dual nationality will not be recognized in her country of origin. This is an absurd situation that calls for urgent measures. Furthermore, it is entirely contrary to Article 18 of UDHR.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
To even further demonstrate the absurdity of the situation, we look at it from the other side of the mirror. Muhammed and Chantal go to the City Hall in Antwerp to get married. The civil servant at the Registry there asks Muhammed for proof of baptism. Chantal says there is no problem since she herself has converted to Islam. The civil servant at the Registry tells her that there is no such thing as a Roman Catholic converting to Islam and that this is not recognized by the municipality. If Muhammed and Chantal want to get married, Muhammed first has to convert to Catholicism and become a Catholic, which requires him to enrol in a two-year course in Roman Catholic religion in the parish where his is living and then be baptized. In Belgium and in all western countries this is an absurd rationale to follow but it is normal procedure in Islamic countries. We think this HAS TO STOP.
What are the demands of the Movement of Belgian Former Muslims?
From the Minister of Justice we ask that recognition of marriages contracted in nations that are signatories to the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam be denied henceforth, this denial based on the articles in the UDHR and on the grounds of reciprocity, seeing that those countries deny recognition of marriages contracted in Belgium of Muslim women to non-Muslim men.
We ask that the Minister of Foreign Affairs initiates steps both bilaterally and multilaterally against the nations that are signatories to the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights to nullify and declare invalid the forced conversion of Belgian citizens wishing to marry a Muslim woman from such countries.