RIYADH — Forced to divorce by an Islamic court because the judges considered the husband’s tribal stock not prestigious enough, a Saudi Arabian couple is appealing to international authorities for help, Reuters has reported.
In a country known for its strict religious law and its rampant abuses of human rights, Mansour al-Timani and Fatima Azzaz are calling for outside pressure to reunite them. A recent appeal to the United Nations failed to do so.
Azzaz is currently being detained in a government home for orphans with the couple’s two-year-old son, and she will not return to the family home as per the court order. Al-Timani, meanwhile, has custody of their four-year old daughter. He claims that authorities have banned him from traveling or seeing his wife and son, arrested him repeatedly, and told him never to speak to the media.
“Authorities want me to give up the case,” Reuters quoted al-Timani as saying on May 24. “I could spend my entire life seeking justice or even be thrown in a dark cell, but I will never give up.” He added, “I cannot get justice in my country; the United Nations could not get me justice; I turn to Allah and to the world to ask for this injustice to be brought to an end.”
Azzaz told Reuters from Dammam, an eastern Saudi city, “I urge international organizations to find a quick solution; we have had enough of empty promises.”
Authorities ordered the couple to separate in 2006, after Azzaz’s brothers convinced the court authorities that al-Timani’s lineage lacked sufficient prestige. Yakin Erturk, who is the United Nations’ expert on violence against women, visited Riyadh in February and said that Saudi authorities had promised to let the couple reunite, according to Reuters, but nothing has come of it.
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