Court Annuls Christian Convert’s Marriage

Published: June 9, 2008

By leaving Islam, ‘apostate’ loses right because he ‘has no creed.’

ISTANBUL, June 9 A Jordanian Islamic law court has annulled the marriage of a former Muslim because of his conversion to Christianity.

The North Amman Sharia Court in April dissolved the marriage of Mohammad Abbad, on trial for apostasy, or leaving Islam.

The 40-year-old convert fled Jordan with his wife and two young children in March after another Christian convert’s relatives attacked Abbad’s family in their home and his father demanded custody of Abbad’s children.

“Marriage depends on the creed [religion], and the apostate has no creed,” a May 22 court document stated, detailing reasons for the April 22 annulment. According to the document, Judge Faysal Khreisat had “proven the veracity of [Abbad’s] apostasy.”

Jordan’s penal code does not outlaw apostasy, and the country’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, as does the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that was given force of law in the country in June 2006.

But Islam, Jordan’s official religion, forbids conversion to another faith. Jordanian sharia (Islamic law) courts that rule on family law have convicted converts of apostasy, stripping them of all legal rights.

“I can’t win this case as long as I insist that I converted to Christianity,” Abbad wrote after arriving in a European country where he has applied for asylum.

Abbad and his 10-year-old son were violently attacked in their home on March 23, when relatives of another convert, staying with Abbad, stormed the house. Abbad suffered injuries to his head and chest and bleeding in his right eye, according to medical reports from Jordan University Hospital.

When Abbad went to the police station the same day to file a complaint he found his father there, demanding custody of Abbad’s son and 11-year-old daughter.

Testifying before Khreisat the next day (March 24), Abbad refused to convert back to Islam. According to court records, Khreisat ordered Abbad to be jailed in Amman’s Jweideh Prison for one week for “contempt of court.”

Due to his injuries Abbad fainted while on his way to the jail, prompting police to send him to a hospital where he spent the night handcuffed to his bed.

After a relative posted bail for him on March 25, lawyers advised Abbad to leave Jordan, saying he had no hope of winning the case and could lose custody of his children.

In November 2006 an Amman sharia court convicted a Muslim convert to Christianity of apostasy, stripping him of his legal rights, annulling his marriage and opening the way for someone else to be given legal care of his children. The convert and his family received refugee status and were resettled in the U.S.

According to advocacy group Middle East Concern, at least three other converts to Christianity have been charged with apostasy in Jordan since then.

Jordan’s historical Christian community – Orthodox, Catholics and a smaller number of Protestants – make up around 4 percent of the population.

The exact number of Muslim converts to Christianity in Jordan is unknown. Many choose to maintain a low profile in order to avoid harassment.

END

*** A photo of Mohammad Abbad’s wounds (face largely cropped out for security reasons) is available electronically. Contact Compass Direct News for pricing and transmittal.

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