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The Guardian: Muslim says mistresses are the French way of life

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Associated Press Writer= PARIS (AP) — A Muslim Frenchman at the center of a firestorm over polygamy said Monday that keeping mistresses is the French way of life.

The man’s case came to light after his wife was fined for driving with a veil covering her face, and his comments are an ironic riposte to those in French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government who want to push immigrants to better integrate into French society.

The 31-year-old Frenchwoman drew nationwide attention last week to a driving fine she received for apparel that hinders her vision. But it soon emerged that her husband may have four wives — although it was doubtful the marriages were made official under French law.

The situation appeared to be a boon to Sarkozy, who is trying to rush through controversial legislation forbidding burqa-style Islamic veils that cover the face, on the grounds that they don’t respect French values or women’s dignity. But it has stoked debate and may backfire on legal grounds.

The president of the French parliament’s lower chamber, Bernard Accoyer, said Monday the text of the bill to ban full Muslim veils would be presented at a Cabinet meeting May 19.

Many Muslims fear a law banning face-covering veils because they say targeting the tiny minority of women who cover their faces stigmatizes France’s entire Muslim community — at an estimated 5 million people, the largest in western Europe. The head of the main Muslim grouping, Mohamed Moussaoui, reiterated that message Monday after a meeting with Prime Minister Francois Fillon. He noted that shots fired over the weekend at a mosque in southern France failed to garner the attention given to the veil affair.

Those who want a full ban on such veils contend the garment conceals more than the face, notably helping to perpetuate practices like polygamy, approved in some Muslim countries, and is a signpost of a radical interpretation of Islam.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux wants to revoke the French citizenship of the driver’s husband if he is found to be practicing polygamy. The man is also suspected of profiting from state subsidies for single women provided to each of the wives.

Authorities are looking into whether the Algerian-born Lies Hebbadj was married to four women in French civil ceremonies, which would be highly unlikely. Were he married in religious ceremonies by imams in Algeria or in France, these unions would not count as marriages under French law, said Rabah Hached, a Paris lawyer who specializes in immigration issues. In that case, each of the officially unmarried women could potentially receive state aid for her children.

For the attorney, the law may be on the side of the allegedly polygamous man.

“It’s not forbidden to have a mistress,” Hached said by telephone. While stressing he does not know details of the case, Hached said that “I strongly suspect this gentleman we’re talking about is within his rights.”

Hebbadj, defended his lifestyle Monday by turning the notion of polygamy on its head.

“If we are stripped of nationality, for having mistresses,” Lies Hebbadj told reporters in Nantes, then “there would be a lot of French people stripped of nationality. As far as I know, mistresses are not forbidden, neither in France, nor in Islam.”

He did not specify whether he lives under the same roof with the various women in his life, although press reports have quoted neighbors as saying he moves between several houses. Hebbadj, whose robed image has been flashed around France by TV, runs a recently opened halal butcher shop.

The revelation last week that a police officer cited the woman, whose name has not been revealed, for driving while wearing a niqab, which reveals only the eyes, provided a taste of what is in store.

A French bill that would outlaw the veils in all public places will be introduced in May, despite a ruling by France’s highest administrative body that it risks being found unconstitutional.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon met Monday with Muslim leaders and the justice minister Monday to lay the groundwork for an eventual law.

Belgium also plans a full ban on Islamic garments that cover the face and was expected to be the first EU country to institute one, until the collapse last week of the Belgian government. That legislation is on hold.

Sarkozy, who has striven to revive what he says is a loss of basic French values, is sinking in polls and his conservative party was trounced in March regional elections. Some Socialist rivals suggested the arrest of the veiled driver with a suspect husband was a setup.

A Socialist Party spokesman accused Sarkozy of playing to the anti-immigration far-right.

“The government decided … to continue its strategy of stigmatizing” Muslims and has become “the best ally of Islamic extremists in France,” Benoit Hamon said Monday. “A banal police citation has been transformed into an affair of state.”

France’s Muslim leaders have consistently said the veil debate is stigmatizing Muslims.

The question of banning face-covering veils was first broached last June when Sarkozy told parliament that such garments are “not welcome” in France, a message he repeated last month.

The issue blossomed into a major debate, recalling the enmity dividing politicians and citizens before France outlawed Muslim headscarves and other “ostentatious” religious symbols from classrooms in 2004.

The Interior Ministry estimates no more than 1,900 Muslim women wear attire that hides the face.

There are no official numbers on the number of polygamous families in France, most of which are from sub-Saharan Africa, but they are estimated in the tens of thousands.

Source: The Guardian

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Ameera is a final-year medical student and blogger based in Karachi, Pakistan. Having been born and raised in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, her approach towards her Deen has always been rooted in a basic understanding from authentic sources, which was further polished during a three-year weekend course at Al Huda Institute. Her interests, though, seem to know no bounds and range from a passion for the culinary arts and travelling, as well as following current affairs and global happenings. She feels being able to be part of MuslimMatters is one of the major blessings of Allah(swt) upon her, for it has given her a chance to learn and grow. She also maintains her personal blog at http://duskanddawn.wordpress.com.

8 Comments

8 Comments

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  2. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    May 2, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    Belgium also plans a full ban on Islamic garments that cover the face and was expected to be the first EU country to institute one, until the collapse last week of the Belgian government. That legislation is on hold.

    So they sought to prevent Muslim women from covering, and the government collapses. Sweet!

    Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa billah. There is no force nor power besides Allah.

  3. Ukman

    May 4, 2010 at 9:05 AM

    Something is wrong here:

    The dude says : “If we are stripped of nationality, for having mistresses,” Lies Hebbadj told reporters in Nantes, then “there would be a lot of French people stripped of nationality. As far as I know, mistresses are not forbidden, neither in France, nor in Islam.”

    If I understand correctly, Mistresses ARE forbidden in Islam.

    Anyways – we must take into consideration “THE LAWS OF THE LAND” please also read the last Kutbha given by our Prophet (PBUH).

    • Umm Salma

      May 16, 2010 at 12:25 AM

      When I read that, I assumed he meant it in the context that the attorney put it in. Considering that he’s not technically married to all his wives on paper, they are considered “mistresses” to the government. So maybe what he was saying was that if French men can have mistresses, women that they are not married to on paper, then what’s wrong with Muslim men having “mistresses”? Of course in a Muslim’s case, they are actually married under Allah’s Law and that’s all that matters.

  4. monogamist

    May 16, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    salam
    A marriage should be legal in the country of residence, otherwise the women have huge disadvantages in case of unemployment of the husband, death, if one of the women falls sick, has an accident, or when children come in place, depending on the laws of country of residence. Legally he is now able to not recognize any disabled children instead of taking care of them as so many muslim men do anyway.

    He obviously knew that france allows only one marriage at a time, and still talked the women into believing it’s legal. If you don’t agree with those laws, go somewhere else before you violate them. People should really think before they act on their desires. Having a camel can also be considered sunnah, but has anyone taken his camels to France, Italy or USA?

  5. Siraaj

    May 16, 2010 at 6:26 AM

    If we are stripped of nationality, for having mistresses,” Lies Hebbadj told reporters in Nantes, then “there would be a lot of French people stripped of nationality.

    LOL, way to pwn the French government and Muslim apologists in one simple statement.

    Siraaj

  6. sebkha

    June 15, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    Asalaam aleikum.

    Just to say in advance, I am no fan of many French policies, and their government irks me on so many different levels. That being said, Lies Hebbadj is no poster child for building a better, more tolerant France. Or for showing the rest of the world the impeccable virtues of living a wholesome, Islamic lifestyle. He has completely and utterly slandered his wives with these comments he’s made. And that is inexcusable.

    If these women have entered into a religious based contract with this man to be his wives, and he denies publicly that they are his wives, but rather mistresses, then he has publicly announced to the world that he is a an adulterer and 3 of the women he’s married to are fornicators. No matter what kind of asinine comparisons he tries to make, a mistress will never, ever be equitable to a wife, no matter how screwed up French law may be. It doesn’t matter that French law is hypocritical. It sucks that it’s hypocritical, but it doesn’t make Lies Hebbadj’s sliminess any more palatable. Pwnage would be saying “yeah, i have four wives because I believe it’s my God-given right to do so, and if France doesn’t like it, too bad. I’ll take the consequences like a man, and deal with it.” Instead he chooses to obliterate his wives’ good names and public standing so he can save his own arse. Very, very trashy.

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