Adonis Diaries

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Is history made this side of the Sea? First civil marriage in Lebanon, And

It is legal and constitutional

“We state of our own accord and without any coercion, as equals in and before the law according to the preamble of the constitution and its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially Article 16 of said declaration, that the man among us has taken the woman as his wife, and that the woman has taken the man as her husband …”

Arwa al Husseini posted in Arabic this story on Jan. 17, 2013 (translated to English by NOW)

The above contract is one expression in the marriage contract signed by Kholoud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish, who were married in Lebanon’s first civil ceremony.

The couple was supposed to travel to Cyprus, where civil marriage is permitted and validated in Lebanon.

Kholoud met by chance a civil society activist who proposed that the wedding be the first civil marriage held in Lebanon.

And Kholoud and Nidal’s journey began as first civil couple this side of the sea (east of the Mediterranean)

Kholoud told NOW: “I was attending a lecture about the art of photography, and while waiting for Nidal, I noticed this poster saying: Let us get to know civil marriage and secularism before they take us to sectarianism.  And a woman came to me and said, ‘Secularism is not against religion,’ and I answered, ‘I know. Just because I am veiled this doesn’t mean I’m against secularism.’

And in order to prove my point, I told her that we (Nidal and I) were getting ready to go to Cyprus to have a civil marriage.

“This civil activist told me about the attempt to celebrate the first civil marriage in Lebanon. I discussed the idea with Nidal, and we told her we agreed on condition of total anonymity, as we feared our parents would not accept it.

We met with [lawyer] Talal Husseini, who prepared the draft study, and we had several sessions with him: He wanted to make sure that we were ready for such a step.”

Preparations for the marriage began after Kholoud and her parents reached an agreement on “being spoken for” as per formal religious rules, without registering the marriage at a Muslim religious tribunal.

The first step was to strike out the mention of religious sects from the respective IDs of both Kholoud’s and Nidal’s in order to prove before the law that they are not affiliated with a sect that forces them to marry before a religious court. They thus acquired the right to hold a civil marriage as per Article 60 L.R.

They had to obtain a form signed by the mayor (mokhtar) proving that there are no objections to their marriage and put the marriage announcement up on a billboard 15 days before the wedding date to make sure that there were no objections to it. (Fair enough)

The announcement was supposed to be published in the Official Gazette or at least two newspapers, but in order to prevent any hindrances, Kholoud and Nidal just posted the announcement on the doors of their parents’ houses and on the door of their own house.

They also had to obtain a legal document signed by a notary public after both parties chose the articles included in the marriage contract as well as a financial disclosure that guarantees the rights of each party to the marriage.

After a few snags in obtaining the necessary paperwork, Kholoud and Nidal signed their civil marriage contract on November 10, 2012, making them the first Lebanese couple to be wedded by civil marriage in Lebanon.

The request is now in the hands of the Consultations Committee at the Ministry of the Interior pending its official announcement.

On the legal level, Husseini, who authored the draft, explained that “The marriage was held based on Decree No. 60 L.R. – a numeration of decrees adopted by the High Commissioner [during the French Mandate in Lebanon] – of 1936, which organizes and recognizes sects and grants them rights.

The same decree also recognizes individuals, and we used this same law to strike out the reference to sect [on one’s ID].”

Applying Decree No. 60 L.R. for people who are not officially affiliated to any sect provides a solution for civil marriage. Husseini added: “Not being affiliated to a sect does not mean not being a believer; it is merely not making an administrative disclosure of one’s sect and subjecting [instead] to civil courts.”

Lebanese law imposes constraints on enjoying the right to marriage.

Husseini argues:

“Let us suppose that a person wants to marry and there’s no law. This means there are no constraints to enjoying the right to marriage unless the marriage one is about to enter into contravenes the constitution, genera order or good ethics. Civil marriage is the only [form] that fits the constitution, which includes provisions about freedom and equality; it is the constitution, rather than religious marriage, that provides freedom and equality,”

Good-natured attempts to ensure the right to civil marriage in Lebanon are often misdirected.

Husseini said: “Some people were calling for a law pertaining to civil marriage and propose incomplete drafts that are not the object of enough study or serious public debate. In so doing, they act as though they need to give [people] the right [to choose civil marriage] and as though there is no legislation. Yet this is not true: Legislation does exist, and there is no way to misinterpret the provisions of Decree No. 60 L.R., which includes a reference to a law. This is either a reference to a French law – and this is the most probable option – or to a civil law according to the person’s own choice, or to any ample provisions for the organization of marriages.”

“The law allows the two people who wish to marry the right to choose the provisions that suit them in the contract. In contrast, religious marriage – or some forms of it – is subjected to the Ottoman family law with regard to certain provisions. When we say that Decree No. 60 L.R. is a reference to French civil marriage, this makes it part of the Lebanese law.

Furthermore, the French law does not contravene the constitution or sectarian bylaws or public order, and is applicable in courts located in France, Turkey, Cyprus or Switzerland between Lebanese [couples] or [a couple formed by] a Lebanese person and a non-Lebanese person. In other words, it is applicable in Lebanese civil courts and this does not cause any problems.”

Kholoud and Nidal chose civil marriage because they believe it is the best expression of a relationship built on true partnership, equality and rejection of dependency. Will the Lebanese state adopt civil marriage as a gateway to break sectarian constraints and build a civil state?

This article was translated from the original Arabic

مُحجّبة تفتتح أوّل زواج مدني في لبنان طبقاً لـ”الدستور”

“نصرّح مختارين غير مكرهين، متساوين في القانون وأمامه طبقاً للدستور في مقدّمته والتزامه الإعلان العالمي لحقوق الإنسان، وخصوصاً في المادة 16 منه، نصرّح بأنّ الرّجل منّا قد قبل الإمرأة زوجةً له، كما قبلت الإمرأة الرجل زوجاً لها.

In summary:


Researchers and legal experts at the Civil Center for National Initiative said on Saturday that there are no obstacles in front of civil marriage in Lebanon for those who decide to remove their sects from their IDs, LBCI television reported.

“The 1936’s law is more advanced and open than the ones adopted nowadays,” Change and Reform bloc MP Ghassan Moukheiber expressed in an interview with LBCI.

He stated: “We demand the State of Lebanon to take into consideration those that are not affiliated with any religion or sect”.

“The biggest challenge today is building citizenship,” he added.

The discussion on this issue comes soon after reports broke out about a Lebanese couple that challenged the sectarian personal status code in Lebanon and tied the knot in a first of a kind civil marriage in the country on November 11, 2012.

Kholoud Sukkariyah and Nidal Darwish removed the reference of their sects from their respective IDs and based their marital contract on Decree No. 60 L.R.

The decree, which organizes and recognizes religious communities and grants them rights, says those who are not affiliated with a sect are subject to the civil law of personal status, as well as to the introduction of the Constitution which adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Orthodox Jews in Israel: Back to the Dark Ages; (October 13, 2009)


            The Jewish Agency, supported by the Israeli government, has launched in September a campaign to “sensibilize” Jews in the Diaspora of the risk of mix marriages; Jews were contacted via to refrain from processes of assimilation in their home countries.

            What do you think a Jewish Orthodox widow should do after the requisite time of mourning?  Well, she is supposed to quickly marry her brother-in-law according to the religious Jewish laws.  In case either party is not satisfied with this regulation then a “halitza” ceremony is undertaken so that the widow would spit on the shoes of the brother-in-law and then pay him a sum of money.  Otherwise, the honor of the tribe is injured and lineage of the male is at risk. An interrogated rabbi said: “This ceremony is basically destined to humiliate the brother-in-law and to punish the widow”.  This custom has not been abolished and is practiced daily amid the Orthodox Jews. This story in Shomer Masakh was transmitted by the Israeli Channel 10.

            In Lebanon, marrying in another religious sect sends the couple to Cyprus for a civil wedding to be later acknowledge by the government. Flying to Cyprus to get married is done In Israel with a twist; if one partner is not an Orthodox Jew then the couple has to go to Cyprus.  Well, yes, there are the Orthodox Jews, the reformist or liberal Jews (mostly French speaking Jews), and the conservative or traditional Jews (mostly USA and Eastern European Jews). Don’t ask me on details but you may fill me in with your comments.

            In Lebanon, only the Sunni Mufti is paid by the government (a continuation of the Ottoman period).  In Israel, all three thousand Orthodox rabbis are paid by the government.

            In Lebanon we don’t have a ministry of religious affairs though we have 18 recognized sects legally running the civil status of the citizens from birth to death.  Israel had always had a ministry for the Orthodox Jews since its creation in 1948.  This religious ministry has a substantial budget of over 100 million dollars; 500 religious building were erected exclusively for the Orthodox Jews; the other Jews have no access to these facilities.  Actually, if an Orthodox woman is being married by a non Orthodox rabbi then she is denied the visit of her hometown mikveh (Temple).

            The Orthodox Jews constitute only 20% of the Israeli citizens but they have large political and financial leverages.  This powerful minority pressure many other ministries such as Education, Construction, Housing, national infrastructure, and Defense to pay their dues to the Orthodox communities.

            The Orthodox Jew has the right not to participate in the military service if he chose to; why should he? Why should any Israeli serve three years in the army and then be summoned every year to serve an entire month as a reservist?  Why the Israeli should participate in all the pre-emptive wars just to enrich the military infrastructure and inflate the Defense budget?  Why the Israeli is forced to be a low paid mercenary for the western powers’ interests?


Note: This topic is an extract of an article in Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli daily.  If you have other examples, send them in.




March 2023

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