The French government said Monday it will appeal a court decision to grant a marriage annulment to a Muslim on the grounds his wife lied about her virginity, after the verdict sparked a public uproar.
Justice Minister Rachida Dati has asked state prosecutors to file an appeal against the ruling handed down in Lille in northern France, the justice ministry said in a statement.
"The annulment of a marriage by the high court in Lille has sparked a heated social debate. This private affair reached beyond the scope of two people and concerns all citizens in our country, particularly women," it said.
News of the ruling, which was handed down in April but revealed last week, sparked an uproar among French politicians and women's rights campaigners, but also French Muslim figures.
French Urban Affairs minister Fadela Amara, a practising Muslim and women's rights activist, called it "a fatwa against women's emancipation."
The man suspected that his new bride, also a Muslim, was not a virgin on their wedding night in July 2006 because the bedsheets were not stained with blood. The woman later admitted to him she had had sex before their marriage.
The court granted the request after ruling the man had been "mistaken about the essential qualities" of his wife-to-be.
Speaking on an Internet talk show, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said he would take the case to France's high court of appeal if necessary to prevent creating a legal precedent for annulling a marriage on grounds of virginity.
"This is a very, very sensitive affair, one that shocks a great many French people because it seems to take us back to a time long past," he said.
"I do not wish for people one day to be able to make virginity a constitutional element of marital consent."
"Under these conditions, it is right to ask for a new judgment and, if necessary, to ask the Court of Cassation to issue a ruling to prevent this from setting a legal precedent for all judges in our country."
Date created : 2008-06-03