Saudi mulls tougher rules on mixed marriage

Saudi Arabia is considering the enactment of tougher rules to curb mixed marriage but many citizens are opposed to such regulations, with one saying such a law contradicts with Islamic teachings.

The Gulf Kingdom, the world’s largest oil exporter, already enforces controls governing the marriage of Saudis with foreigners but a new draft law is being debated by the parliament to introduce stiffer regulations.

According to the Arabic language daily Aleqtisadiah, the new law will include a fine of up to SR100,000 (Dh99,000) and other penalties and must be ratified by King Abdullah after it is approved by Shura (appointed parliament).

In an opinion poll conducted by the newspaper, many Saudis said they are opposed to such regulations. One said they are against Islamic teachings while another citizen said it violates human rights and personal freedom.

“The new law will include a fine of up to SR100,000 against Saudi men who marry foreign women or Saudi women who get foreign husbands…violators will also be deprived of all government grants and public fund loans,” it said.

The paper said cabinet ministers and other senior government officials as well as Shura members would be exempted from those rules.

Other Saudis need prior approval from the Minister of Interior to marry foreign spouses, who must be “free of diseases that affect marriage or are not on the blacklist in the Kingdom,” the paper said.

“New rules are needed because marriage of Saudis to foreign spouses is affecting the local society…there should be laws to regulate such marriages because those which violate such rules and conditions are leading to bad consequences and effects on the children and families,” it said.

Answers by Saudis surveyed by the paper showed they are split on mixed-marriage as some of them appeared to be strictly against the new rules.

While some of them said they believed mixed marriage leads to family trouble and end up in divorce, others said the new laws encroach on personal liberties.

“Marriage is a personal affair and a personal freedom…..why putting obstacles for halal (allowed under Islam) and promoting haram (prohibited)…,” said a Saudi national, who identified himself as only Aldoumi.

“I think blocking mixed marriage on the basis of nationality is wrong…it should be on the basis of religion and ethics,” said another one, identified as Abdullah Balhakeem. “If a foreign spouse enjoys good conduct, the marriage in this case should not be stopped…having a good foreign spouse is not a shame.”

Another Saudi sounded sarcastic. “Man reached moon and we here are still haggling about the marriage of Saudis to non-Saudis,” Khaled said.

“What has the nationality to do with what God the Almighty has sanctioned,” said another respondent, who was not identified. “I believe that good conduct, ethics, and religion should be the criteria for marriage not nationality.”

Another Saudi who was not named was more defiant. “If I want to marry a non-Saudi woman, no one on earth can stop me even if they will strip me of my nationality…this is a sheer personal affair…where are the human rights.”

A respondent who identified himself as Turki dismissed reports that mixed marriage causes family trouble. “I know seven Saudi men who are married to foreigners…they don’t have any problem although some of them have been married for nearly 20 years…I call on the Ministries of Interior and Justice to issue statistics proving those reports.”

Another respondent said he saw discrimination in the new rules by exempting ministers and other officials. “Why a minister is exempted from such rules….we all are supposed to be embracing one religion and should be equals.”
 

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