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Egyptian couple married by a female registrar

Declines touching the groom's hand

Egypt's first ever marriage contract to be sealed by a woman registrar has taken place in a ceremony that not only included the couple's families, but also the registrar's supporters in what is considered a "historic" event, local press reported.

The first female marriage registrar in Egypt Amal Suleiman started her controversial career in the Nile Delta city of Zaqaziq by marrying off two journalists, 23-year-old Dalia Samir and 25-year-old Ahmed Moukhtar.

The couple first interviewed her in the course of their job, then decided to "make history with her," Egyptian independent daily al-Masry al-Youm reported Monday.

Suleiman, who had to go through much struggled to prove women's right to become marriage registrars, said the groom planned to get married after a year, but changed his mind because he wanted to be the first groom to be married by a woman.

During the ceremony, Suleiman refused to put her hand on the groom's and that of his bride's proxy as is customary with marriage contracts by male registrars.

"There is nothing in Islam that necessitates the registrar putting his/her hand on either," she told the paper.

Suleiman said that she only finalizes the contract, but leaves the marriage speech to one of the preachers at the mosque where the ceremony takes place. She stressed that she has the ability to say the speech but that this is not one of the registrar's jobs.

Suleiman said she declines wearing the traditional turban and cloak of marriage registrars since this is a male outfit and according to Islam, women should not act like men.

Suleiman's father Mahmoud said that his daughter's job is an achievement for women and stresses their ability to occupy all kinds of positions.

The bride's mother said that everyone welcomed the step, except the bride's uncle, but her father convinced him.

On the other hand, several human rights organizations issued a statement, calling for the Ministry of Justice to follow up on women's applications for marriage registrars to make sure none is rejected without valid legal reasons.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)