Source: The Guardian
BY Kareem Shaheen and Gokce Saracoglu in Istanbul
Activists and opposition politicians in Turkey have rounded on a law that allows Muslim clerics to conduct civil marriages, describing it as a blow to women’s rights and secularism and part of an ongoing effort to impose religious values on a polarised society.
The law allowing “mufti” marriages was passed by parliament and Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then published in the country’s official gazette on Friday, despite protests by civil society activists and opposition lawmakers. Last month, Erdoğan declared the bill would be passed “whether you like it or not”.
“Women’s rights are going to decline,” said Nazan Moroğlu, an expert on gender law and a lecturer at Yeditepe University. “Everything that has been pushed on to women in this land has been done in the name of religion.”
Muftis are clerics empowered with issuing religious opinions on matters of day-to-day life. Previously, only state officers in branches of the family affairs directorate were able to conduct marriages.