Woman overcomes tradition, becomes marriage registrar

CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s first female marriage registrar started work Saturday despite complaints by some clerics that the move is against Islam, the official news agency said.

During her first day on the job, Amal Suleiman Afifi married a couple in the Delta town of Zaqaziq, MENA said.

The couple moved up their wedding ceremony so they could be married by the 34-year-old Muslim woman, the report said.

Afifi first approached the Egyptian government last year seeking approval to become a marriage registrar, but the Ministry of Justice turned her down.

Many conservative clerics believe Islamic law, or Sharia, prohibits a woman from becoming a registrar because it states the testimony of two women is equivalent to one man in court. Therefore they believe a marriage contract signed by a woman would be illegal.

More liberal minded clerics believe a marriage registrar plays purely an administrative role for the state, and therefore her signature on the contract does not violate Shariah.

The constitution says Shariah is the main source of legislation in the country but doesn’t specifically bar women from becoming marriage registrars.

Following her rejection by the ministry, Afifi took her case to a family court that accepted her application to become a registrar in February. The court chose Afifi over 10 other male applicants for the job because of her “distinguished legal qualifications,” MENA said.

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