French court refuses to annul Muslim's marriage to non-virgin wife

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Sydney, Nov 18 : A French appeal court has refused to annul the marriage of a Muslim couple after the husband discovered his bride was not a virgin, the hubby's lawyer has said.

The groom, a Muslim engineer in his 30s sought the annulment after realising his bride was not a virgin on the night of their marriage in a civil ceremony in July 2006.

A lower court in April, ruled in favour and the couple's marriage was annulled.

However, public outrage forced the government to order the case be reviewed, against the wishes of both spouses.

The ruling drew furious protests from rights groups, who slammed it as a victory for religious fundamentalists and a blow to the emancipation of women that set a dangerous legal precedent.

The bride, who admitted to him she had had pre-marital sex, said she accepted the annulment.

"This ruling is very worrying," Sydney Morning Herald quoted groom's lawyer Xavier Labbee as saying.

"Our individual liberties are seriously threatened," he added.

Lawyers for both parties had requested at a hearing in September that the annulment be maintained.

But state prosecutors said they were not against allowing the split if it were possible to replace the "discriminatory motive" of loss of virginity with a more general one, such as mistaken identity.

ANI

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