Lebanon News

Charbel insists civil marriage couple keep sects

Kholoud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish announced recently that they are expecting a child. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT: The first couple to have a civil marriage on Lebanese soil are calling caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel’s approval of their contract Thursday a victory, despite his stipulation that they must retain their sectarian affiliation.

Kholoud Succariyeh, whose marriage in November was conducted by a public notary after they removed their sects from public records, told The Daily Star: “We’re really proud of what we have done ... it’s a victory.”

But although the National News Agency reported that Charbel approved the marriage’s registration, it said the minister did so on the condition that they do not change their sects and follow the personal status laws of their religions when it comes to inheritance, divorce and children.

Charbel said this is necessary because a 19th sect, for “those who have no sect,” did not exist. He added the move was meant to guarantee the rights of the couple and their children.

Succariyeh, who is pregnant, has said her child would have no sect. She and her husband, Nidal Darwish, say religious law no longer applies to them and that Lebanese law allows those without a sect to choose a civil law.

Succariyeh said she and her husband would follow the civil law they specified in their marriage contract, not religious law as Charbel suggested.

Talal Husseini, a civil marriage advocate, said Charbel had no choice but to register the wedding after the Justice Ministry’s Higher Committee for Consultations deemed civil marriage in Lebanon legal. “The interior minister has no right to put conditions [on the contract],” he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 26, 2013, on page 4.

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