London, May 31 : France has reacted with anger to a decision by the high court to annul a marriage between two Muslims because the wife lied about being a virgin.
The Lille court's decision has also angered feminists who say it amounts to a fatwa against women's liberty.
The court granted the man's request for an annulment after ruling that he had been tricked into a marriage.
His partner's virginity was a determining factor in his decision to wed her, it ruled.
Patrick Devedjian, leader of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement, said it was unacceptable that the law could be used for religious reasons to repudiate a bride.
It must be modified "to put an end to this extremely disturbing situation", he said.
The case, which had previously gone unreported, involved an engineer in his 30s, named as Mr X, who married Ms Y, a student nurse in her 20s, in 2006.
The wedding night party was still under way at the family's home in Roubaix when the groom came down from the bedroom complaining that his bride was not a virgin. He could not display the bloodstained sheet that is traditionally exhibited as proof of the bride's "purity".
Mr X went to court the following morning and was granted an annulment on the grounds that his bride had deceived him on "one of the essential elements" of the marriage.
In disgrace with both families, she acknowledged that she had led her groom to believe that she was a virgin when she had already had sexual intercourse. She did not oppose the annulment.
Elisabeth Badinter, a philosopher and pioneer of women's legal rights, said that she felt shame for the French justice system.
"The sexuality of women in France is a private and free matter. The annulment will just serve to send young Muslim girls running to hospitals to have their hymens restored," TimesOnline quoted her, as saying.