Danish Imam Calls on State to Accept Refugee Child Marriages

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A high profile Danish imam called for the Danish government not to act against child marriages in migrant communities because to do so would break up families.

“One should look at these cases from a different perspective,” Imam Oussama El-Saadi of the Aarhus Mosque told the Danish newspaper Metroxpress. “It is an extraordinary humanitarian situation, and I think you have to take care of these families. They’re married, and even if the man is twice as old as they have built a family. We have to accept that it is a different culture, and we can not destroy family life.”

He noted many women and girls married for security reasons in the perilous environment of refugee camps.

Recent cases of Danish authorities allowing men to remain married to girls as young as 14 whom they married in refugee camps caused a furor in Denmark. In January, the Danish Integration Ministry said there were 27 minors living in married couples within the official asylum system.

“It is completely unacceptable that there are currently minors within the Danish asylum system living with their spouses or partners,” Integration Minister Inger Støjberg said. “I have asked the Danish Immigration Service to immediately put a stop to it.”

Other imams are making strides for equality this week in Denmark, with the country’s first female run mosque opening. Services, except those on Friday, will be open to men, but prayers will be led by female imams.  

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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