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Monday, November 21, 2005

Protesting the Personal

With the end of the holy month of Ramadan, it is protest season in Bahrain again. Thousands have taken to the streets of Manama over the past two weeks in a series of marches against a proposed new family law. The protests culminated in a march that saw around 14,000 protesters according to the Interior Ministry, and may have been much larger. The protests were called by opposition Islamic parties, lead by the al-Wefaq society, which is calling on parliament to reject the new family law on the grounds that it is un-Islamic. Religious leaders fear that the proposed law will remove sharia, or Islamic law, principles from the civil courts.

The law, however, is strongly supported by women's rights groups in Bahrain, in particular the Supreme Council for Women (SCW), which is chaired by the wife of Bahrain's King, Sheikh Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa. Women's groups say the proposed law, called the Personal Status Law, has been based on sharia principles, but will bring greater clarity to the settlement of domestic disputes, such as divorce, child custody and inheritance, and therefore greater equality and fair treatment for women. At present, the ill-defined sharia system allows too much discretion to judges, who tend to be biased towards men, say the law's supporters. Read More....

Source: Oxford Business Group

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