The Judge Who Quoted the Koran

Hi there. Sorry about the light posting, I’ve been interacting with humans for the past few days, face-to-face. Odd business, that.

Everybody’s talking about the judge in Frankfurt who cited the Koran in adjudicating a divorce case. The New York Times’ take is here: "News of the ruling brought swift and sharp condemnation from politicians, legal experts, and Muslim leaders in Germany, many of whom said they were confounded that a German judge would put 7th-century Islamic religious teaching ahead of modern German law in deciding a case involving domestic violence." A lot of American right-wing hacks have seized on this case to bolster their thesis that Europe is "capitulating" to Islam. This one story is bidding fair to dominate perceptions of the German legal system for years to come.

In the taz, Berlin lawyer Jony Eisenberg says (G) that a few facts don’t seem to be getting the attention they deserve. Remember, she says, that the judge in the Frankfurt case had already issued a restraining order against the husband, and the couple was living apart. By no means did the judge force the woman to return to a violent husband or set the Federal seal of approval on wife-beating (as it’s being portrayed by aforementioned right-wing hacks). The question here is how long the woman will have to wait before the divorce is final. Couples normally have to wait one year, and the judge, according to lawyer Eisenberg, was within her rights to enforce the one-year deadline. Whatever one thinks of the judge’s discussion of the Koran and of cultural differences, and whatever one thinks of the one-year separation law, her decision was consistent with German law. Perhaps not correct, but also not insane.

I note that a conservative Catholic politician, Ronald Pofalla, is quoted in the New York Times announcing the imminent collapse of Germany society. However, he doesn’t seem to be calling for the repeal of the one-year-separation law (a marriage-preserving measure approved of by the Catholic Church), which surely forces many German women to remain married to abusive spouses longer than they’d wish.

This case will surely become the focus of an anguished debate in Germany (what doesn’t?), but I counsel restraint. As a former lawyer myself, I can say that the statements of one party’s lawyers (practically the entire basis of the New York Times report) rarely tell the whole story. This could end up being another in a long line of cases in which the main problem is unwise judicial editorializing, not a "system out of control."

I’ll be back across the pond by Wednesday and will resume more regular posting then. Thanks for the patience, and many more thanks for Ed Philp for keeping the flame of Joy alive.

9 thoughts on “The Judge Who Quoted the Koran

  1. Eh? Storm in a teacup I’d say. A few pesky cavemen Germans are not grasping the concept of Unfehlbarkeit that German judges share with the Pope and need to be put in their place. Congrats to that judge woman for putting a nice new spin on judicial arbitrariness, keeps serving the purpose of keeping the populace in check while distracting foreign critics with a Muslim-y theme. The God-like status of past decades was wearing thin and kidnappings weren’t impressing anyone much either.Thanks to Andrew here too for pulling the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting outsiders with that “unwise judicial editorializing” spin thang. Let’s hope that’ll placate Amnesty International enough so that they keep their mouth shut and that judge can keep her job and can continue in that wholesome spirit.


  2. > Perhaps not correct, but also not insane

    Arguably not insane, but racist, as the judge saw fit for a Moroccan born woman, what she would not hold a paleface to. To quote empathic taz-boy Eisenberg: “She [the judge] had the woman put up with that year of judicial separation: the woman had known [in advance], whom she would marry – with what cultural background.” So, marry a Moroccan born Muslim (and be one!), and wife-beating is on the house, death threats too — with juridical approval, and that of taz twonks too.

    Some spicy bits from the judge’s ruling, as Andrew wouldn’t bother us with details:

    Die Ausübung des Züchtigungsrechts begründet keine unzumutbare Härte gemäß Paragraf 1565 BGB.” (Execercising the right of corporal punishment does not constitute an unbearable hardship according to section 1565 BGB)
    Für diesen Kulturkreis ist es nicht unüblich, dass der Mann gegenüber der Frau ein Züchtigungsrecht ausübt. Hiermit musste die in Deutschland geborene Antragstellerin rechnen, als sie den in Marokko aufgewachsenen Antragsteller geheiratet hat. (In this cultural group it’s not uncommon for the husband to exercise the right of corporal punishment. The German born plaintiff had to reckon with it, when she married the Moroccan raised plaintiff.)

    Though under international agreements German judges are bound to apply other countries’ laws sometimes, as most judges in the world, this doesn’t override Germany’s Basic Law or the UN Human Rights Declaration. No, I’m not talking of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, that’s a different kettle of fish, as of yet. Anyway, some horrid right wingers dared to object, and possibly some didn’t bother for details and accuracy either.

    Technically, this musings, which the judge thought fit to base with do-it-yourself Quran exegesis (though it yielded correct results, fancy that), were irrelevant to her ruling and its consequences, true — it was a gratuitous display of astuteness. Due to its hallucinatory quality, I first suspected grim and playful humour to be an issue here – maybe she was frustrated with rulings of past years, when meditations of that very same quality and substance led to actual rulings, lowering sentences for wife-beating and killing indeed. So I thought, but I was too clever, as always, I guess. Hanlon’s razor tells us why: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

    There’s a particular twist with Eisenberg’s article: he opens with an underhanded reference to unnamed “notorious Turkish born feminists,” those rag bags chiming in to the unqualified and biased public outburst. Among others, he’s referring to Seyran Ateş, who was one of many Turkish born media persons to protest vigorously. The obnoxious brat doesn’t mention her name or, horribile dictu, Islamophobia, but that’s understood. Now, lawyer Ateş worked as a counselor for migrant women, incidentally in an office I walk by several times a week, where a Grey Wolf defended his ethnic and religious pride by pumping bullets into these sluts, which brought ill repute to the local Turkish community. Ateş’ colleague was killed on the spot, while she survived, staying in hospital for half a year and spending six years with rehab. She later resumed her practice, to interrupt it last year, after she had to face a Muslim women client of hers, being brutalised by her husband on the parking lot of a court building. It wasn’t the first time, and the constant death threats had made her somewhat brittle.

    The killer was caught, but had to be acquitted due to a procedural error. The killer’s Grey Wolves were the Turkofascist Milli Görüş’ youth organisation. They went into a killing spree in the 70ies, but most settled to become local respected businessmen when growing older. After 9/11, Milli Görüş mellowed its tone, as did surprisingly many Islamists, who had been refreshingly frank before. Now, they’re conferring with our Minister of the Interior at the famed German Islamic conference. They do so under the Islamic council’s umbrella, but the minister made it clear, that he would talk to them directly, if that should be needed.

    Back to Seyran Ateş: she’s quite—sorry!—pissed at these ongoings, and remained, ugh, highly critical of Islam ever since. It didn’t help, when Green Member of Parliament Ekin Deligöz had to ask for police protection, after she issued an appeal against the veil – and so it happened to Arzu Toker and Mina Ahmadi of the recently founded Council of Ex-Muslims. Actually, so it happens to anyone who criticises or, mind you, rejects Islam, getting and/or seeking media attention successfully. No, we don’t speak of Iran, Pakistan or Saudi-Arabia, where it’s understood, we’re talking Europe here, Germany, France, UK, Redeker, Raddatz, Hirsi Ali, Rushdie, van Gogh, the works — all those disrespectful scumbags, who don’t really deserve better. Tazzy Eisenberg and their ilk deeply despise the “nestbeschmutzers” among them (take an ingrate, an informer and a dollop of Benedict Arnold, shake well), traitors of their ethnicity and cultural heritage. I’m delighted, time and again, to encounter cheery empathy for these cute little fellows in this joyous den. And it sure helps, that our tone is happily detached, and centering on the finer points of issues, not on the crud I feel compelled to dig up.

    à propos “pissed” and “respected businessmen”: I once discovered my news agent to peddle the National-Zeitung, so I shunned the shop ever since, though I feel that the scumbag should be allowed to sell that crap. Recently, now living in the Turkish heart of Kreuzberg, I discovered that my favourite Pide backery was Milli Görüş owned. Though it is a shame, I succumbed to the racist doublethink of my fellow goody-two-shoes: as likely quite many shops are Milli Görüş owned anyway, I would have to ressort to scharzbrot, which was a no go. So I stay with that bakery, being the best in town, as somehow fascists with brown eyes and darker complexion just don’t seem to be as nasty as the blue eyed and fair haired variety. Here’s a cheesy Einstein quote: “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

    Koch, should you listen: I still owe you one, yes, take this in between — this is so tedious for all concerned.


  3. I would argue Art. 6 EGBGB is not germane to this case, and neither are claims that the judge wrongly “applied Islamic law” or allowed “Islamic law to trump German law.” That would imply that the legality of domestic violence under a foreign (Moroccan? is it even legal there?) legislation was decisive here. In fact, however, the question of whether an unreasonable hardship is presumed is not directly connected to the question of whether the husband behaves legally or illegally.

    For example, it can be presumed to be an unreasonable hardship when one partner (typically the husband) endeavours to introduce a third person into the marriage – something which we may find reprehensible, but which is clearly not illegal. On the other hand, you cannot claim an unreasonable hardship because your wife was caught speeding with her car, even thought that’s illegal. There have been much starker cases, e.g. a husband that was accused of trading child-porn, but the marriage was not dissolved prematurely.

    The question was, therefore, not whether or not the woman could be expected to “endure” the husband’s abuses. It was only whether, in light of the fact that such abuses have occurred, it would be unacceptable for her to remain legally linked with him. But as far as I know this is almost universally answered in the negative in cases of violent crimes against the spouse. Therefore the judge’s ruling is indeed baffling.


  4. Haha, the question of whether it’s unacceptable is almost universally answered in the positive of course. Trapped by double negation 😉


  5. Here’s some info on the subject – little me is maniacally enthused by now, sorry. In the end, I’m doing a huge disservice to my unsavoury cause whatever devious nitwittery I take to, so you won’t mind.

    The interesting PDF “Fast Gonzo” linked to: Islamic Law in German Courts, in: Islamic Law in German Courts, Hawwa 1 (2003), p. 46-59

    Prof. Dr. iur. Mathias Rohe, M.A.,
    Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, Chair for Civil Law, Private International Law and Comparative Law
    Judge at the Court of Appeal of Nuremberg

    Rohe’s academic curriculum

    Related: In Deutschland wenden wir jeden Tag die Scharia an, Frankfurter Rundschau, interview with Mathias Rohe, 11/28/2002

    Neeedless to say, EMMA’s renegade, post-feminist hyenas use this to defame a religion of heart warming, tier-mondiste, anti-colonialist appeal: Scharia statt Grundgesetz, EMMA, 3/4 2007.

    They don’t esteem Prof. Rohe either – isn’t his beard …funny? He’s Protestant, though. Lately, I read that there have been quite a number of Protestant ministers converting to Islam, its pure and untampered with monotheism being so attractive. Can’t remember the source, so I’ll just monger some unsourced nonsense. Lately, it has been some archbishoppy Catholic funny bones, who first procured persilscheins for themselves by visiting Yad Vashem, to compare Palestinian plight with the Warsaw ghetto later. Some crocodile tears for dead Jews first, some bashing for the living ones later, yummy. But once you talk to to their Evangelic ilk, you’ll find the exact same underhanded way of handling issues of humanistic concern. Gotta luv’em. Its only the neocon media mafia (with that long noses…) that do mind – aren’t they all so predictable?


  6. Just for the record – I have been sloppy too.

    The Grey Wolves were not the Turkofascist Milli Görüs’ youth organisation, they were the Turkofascist Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi’s Balilla. If you perouse our secret services reports, you’ll notice that it’s difficult to keep track of my friend’s myriad shenanigans.

    Again, cf. Heitmeyer, J. Müller, H. Schröder: Verlockender Fundamentalismus. Türkische Jugendliche in Deutschland [The Allure of Fundamentalism: Turkish Youths in Germany], Frankfurt/Main 1997 (2nd edition 1997). That’s the one where you’ll read that a third of Germany’s Turkish immigrant youth is prone to a “gewaltzentriertem islamischen Fundamentalismus und ethnischen Nationalismus” (gewaltzentriert =~ violence prone). According to the study, a third of them feels represented by Milli Görüs, another third by the Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi. The rest are free floating lovely people, I guess. And yes, the Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi’s surviving German splinters, and thus Mrs. Ateş’ trigger happy former friends, sit at our minister’s table too, under the umbrella of the Zentralrat der Muslime. Cf. ADÜTDF and ATIB. Being a maniac, I just knew it.

    Is there method to this hard-to-keep-track-of madness? Yes.


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