An article promoting polygamy for women published in an independent Egyptian newspaper has caused a stir as one MP filed a lawsuit calling for a trial and several lawyers lobby the government to ban a television series about the same topic.
The article, "My Four Husbands and I," published on Dec. 11 in al-Masry al-Youm, was written by Saudi T.V. journalist, Nadine al-Bedair, and called for women to have the right to marry more than one man as part of gender equality.
In the article, Bedair asks why men have the right to get bored of being with one woman and therefore have the right to marry another three, while women do not.
“A man would say, ‘I am bored. She has become like a sister to me. I am no longer sexually attracted to her.’… Here's what I call cheating begins since traditions and the clerics provide men with the remedy to the ailment of boredom,” the article reads.
Bedair then asks what happens when the woman gets bored as well or rather if she has not been enjoying her marital life from the very beginning.
“But a woman does not cheat, not because she is not bored. In fact, she might have not felt one ounce of pleasure since the very first night of this arranged marriage. But traditions and the clerics force her to stay at home and shut up.”
She then concludes the article by proposing that either polygamy be sanctioned for men and women alike or a new map for marriage be drawn to defeat men’s "lame" excuses.
“Until then, the question remains: What happens when I am bored of him or if I feel he is like a brother to me?”
But a woman does not cheat, not because she is not bored. In fact, she might have not felt one ounce of pleasure since the very first night of this arranged marriage. But traditions and the clerics force her to stay at home and shut up
Egyptian lawyer and MP for al-Shaab party, Khaled Fouad Hafez, filed a complaint with the country's prosecutor general and accused the newspaper of promoting vice for publishing the article.
The complaint said the article not only promotes vice but also constitutes a flagrant violation of both the law and religion and flirts with the idea of mixed parentage and goes against the ethics of journalism.
“When the paper published the article, it took part in all those crimes,” Haefz argued. “That is why I call for putting the chairman of the board of directors and the editor-in chief on trial in order to compensate the society for the offense of publishing such a deriding article in a Muslim society.”
Hafez denied allegations that he is looking for fame and stressed that filing the lawsuit was both a duty and a right.
“By doing this, I am practicing my political rights as well as taking part in protecting the society,” he told Al Arabiya. “I filed the lawsuit both as a lawyer and as a member of a political party.”
That is why I call for putting the chairman of the board of directors and the editor-in chief on trial in order to compensate the society for the offense of publishing such a deriding article in a Muslim society
Freedom of expression
When asked about freedom of expression, Hefez replied that there is a huge difference between freedom and apostasy and argued that Bedair’s article belongs to the second as she crosses redlines and promotes sins.
“I call upon both the author and the editor-in-chief to explain the purpose of publishing such an article while a severe campaign is being launched to tarnish the image of Muslim societies, the last of which was the minaret controversy in Switzerland,” he concluded.
In the same vein, several lawyers have been calling for a ban on a T.V. series about a woman married to four men and seeking to marry the fifth.
“This series promotes an act that is criminalized by Islam and the Egyptian law,” they argue.
I call upon both the author and the editor in chief to explain the purpose of publishing such an article while a severe campaign is being launched to tarnish the image of Muslim societies, the last of which was the minaret controversy in Switzerland
According to religious edicts, there is more to banning women’s polygamy than the fact that it is criminalized by Islam. In addition to health hazards and mixed parentage, Islamic scholars argue, men’s polygamy is beneficial for society while that is not the case with women’s polygamy.
They explain that when a man marries more than one woman, the number of spinsters, widows and divorcees become less while the exact opposite takes place if a woman marries more than one man.
There is a rational purpose behind sanctioning polygamy for men in Islam, said Dr. Abdul-Fattah Idris, professor of contemporary jurisprudence in al-Azhar University.
“Men and women are created differently and since God is their creator he knows what this difference entails,” he told Al Arabiya.
Idris argued that sanctioning polygamy for women is not equality, but rather a form of licentious extremism that would destroy the structure of the family and bring about chaos and disintegration.
“Calls for women’s polygamy have nothing to do with rationality. This is a call for surrendering to whims and lust and for destroying society,” he concluded.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)
Men and women are created differently and since God is their creator he knows what this difference entails
Dr. Abdul-Fattah Idris