Egypt’s el-Sissi says he is alarmed by high divorce rates

Source: Associated Press

By HAMZA HENDAWI

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s president said Tuesday he was alarmed by his country’s high divorce rate, suggesting a ground-breaking legislation to delegalize divorces verbally declared by Muslim men to their spouses, the latest foray by the general-turned-president into thorny social and cultural issues in the most populous Arab nation.

In a televised address during a ceremony marking Police Day, President Abdel-Fatteh el-Sissi said he has recently learned from the head of the state Statistics Bureau that about 40 percent of Egypt’s 900,000 annual marriages end in divorce after five years.

Turning to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s supreme seat of religious learning in Cairo, he suggested that the legislation should be adopted so a divorce would be legal only if it is done in the presence of a “maazoun,” a cleric authorized by the government to officiate marriage and divorce.

Some couples already do that, but many Muslim husbands also divorce verbally — often in the heat of an argument — before later documenting the divorce.

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