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.