Al-Azhar Sheikh: Women Shouldn’t Marry Former Mubarak Supporters
In his classic text Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance James Scott describes how the oppressed resist their political and economic domination by the powerful in small ways. One of these is marriage; the village leader, complicit with the state, discovers that for all his relative wealth and power he cannot marry his son to the daughters of any of the respectable families in the community.
That’s what popped into my mind when I read an account in Asharq al-Awsat about a fatwa forbidding pious Muslim families from letting their daughters marry members of the ousted NDP party.
According to the story, Sheikh Omar Stouhi, the secretary general of the Calling Commission at Al-Azhar, was visited by a man asking about the propriety of his daughter’s marriage to a former member of the National Democratic Party, the party of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. He told him the marriage should not take place.
Then he issued a public fatwa prohibiting any marriage with former members in the banned NDP, on the grounds that all those who were NDP members had contributed to the corruption of the Egyptian society.
“A Muslim should always choose the right partner to spend his life with,” Sheikh Stouhi told the newspaper. “If a girl were to marry such a bad person, she would certainly be affected and influenced by his beliefs and this is something unacceptable…”
In an interview, the Asharq al-Awsat reporter apparently pointed out to the sheikh that total membership in the NDP was some 3 million people. Surely they were not all corrupt.
“I did not say that all members of the banned party are bad people,” the Sheikh is quoted as having replied. “Only those who have contributed to corruption must not be allowed to marry Muslim girls…”
And there’s the rub! How, exactly, are we to know the corrupt from the uncorrupt?
This fatwa is the latest in a series of efforts to ensure that the former party cannot make a comeback.
First, a judicial order disbanded the party and forced them to give up their campaign funds to the state. Then a political activist group “Emsek Feloul” headed by Sharif Diab, has begun a campaign of text messages, emails and faxes to the military council, government officials and judges urging that former members of the NDP should not be allowed to run in the upcoming elections or be appointed to any public office. Just a few weeks ago, the Democratic Bloc split as some parties accused others of running candidates who had previously run on the NDP platform.
Now, it seems, nice girls won’t even marry them.