Gulf | Bahrain

Shiite council warns MPs who support family law

The stand-off between supporters and opponents of a family law draft submitted last week by the government to Parliament is likely to deepen and worsen after a Shiite council warned that they would not support the re-election of any MP who backed the proposal.

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 00:00 March 12, 2006
  • Gulf News

Manama: The stand-off between supporters and opponents of a family law draft submitted last week by the government to Parliament is likely to deepen and worsen after a Shiite council warned that they would not support the re-election of any MP who backed the proposal.

"The MPs should assess carefully the consequences of a draft that will compound an explosive situation. They should rise to their historic responsibilities if they want to genuinely represent the people. We have at our disposition 150,000 votes that we will forward to the MPs, and I hope that they understand this message clearly," deputy head of the Islamic Scholars Council Shaikh Abdullah Al Ghraifi said in a speech over the weekend.

Currently Sharia judges use their own discretion to issue verdicts in family cases, a situation that has prompted women's rights activists and the official Supreme Council for Women to launch campaigns "to defend women's rights and save divorcees from injustices".

Conservative Shiites oppose the codification of the law and insist that only the highest religious authorities in Najaf could draft or amend such laws.

They contend that a codicil is needed in the constitution to ensure that neither the government nor the parliament had anything to do with the law.

But lawmaker Fareed Gazi, a lawyer, said that the law had become a necessity.

"I have witnessed many of the problems suffered by Bahraini families in courts and I firmly believe that we need a legal framework that will protect them and consecrate people's rights according to Islamic precepts," he said.

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