Members of the Egyptian parliament responded to the uproar caused by Egyptian and Arab media reports about a new law that would allow a husband to have sex with his dead wife within six hours after her death and denied existence of any such draft.
“This is indecent and nonsense. The whole issue is unacceptable. It is even unacceptable to give any statement to media about this issue,” Islamist MP Mamdouh Ismail told Al Arabiya.
The news about passing the so-called ‘Farewell Intercourse’ law by the country’s Islamist-dominated parliament was first reported by Egyptian state-run al-Ahram newspaper and Egyptian ON TV on Tuesday. It was picked up and analyzed by Al Arabiya English a day later, following which international media picked up the story.
The People’s Assembly Secretary General, Samy Mahran, denied to Al Arabiya the existence of such draft law. “I have never heard of anything in this regard,” he said.
Egyptian MP Hisham Ahmed Hanafi told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday that “such reports are completely false and aim mainly to deform the image of the Egyptian parliament.”
Egyptian Islamist MP Ashraf Agour of the Construction and Development Party also denied the reports and said that “the issue has never been discussed in the parliament,” according to Asharq al-Awsat.
However, MP Amin Eskandar of al-Karama Party said that “the general atmosphere in the Egyptian parliament is vulnerable to such kinds of rumors.” He did confirm the presence of a draft law for early marriage that would permit girls to get married at the age of 14 instead of 18.
“These kinds of controversial laws are very dangerous and create a state of fear inside the community,” he said.
Egypt’s al-Ahram had published an opinion piece by columnist Amro Abdul Samea on Tuesday reporting that the National Council for Women (NCW) had appealed to the parliament not to approve the controversial laws of minimum age of marriage and ‘Farewell Intercourse’.
The appeal came in a message sent by NCW chief, Mervat al-Talawi, to the Egyptian People’s Assembly Speaker, Dr. Saad al-Katatni, addressing the woes of Egyptian women.
The message was referring to the two specific laws of legalizing the marriage of girls starting from the age of 14 and permitting a husband to have sex with his dead wife within the six hours following her death.
Despite attempts to contact Abdul Samea, Al Arabiya was not able to get through to him to discuss the contents of the message.
But in his column, Abdul Samea wrote that Talawi’s message included an appeal to parliament to avoid the controversial legislations that rid women of their rights of getting education and employment, under alleged religious interpretations.
A Moroccan cleric, Zamzami Abdul Bari, was the first to address the ‘Farewell Intercourse’ issue in May 2011.
He argued that marriage remains valid even after death adding that a woman also too had the same right to engage in sex with her dead husband.
Meanwhile, the British Daily Mail quoted a source at the Egyptian Embassy in London as saying that Bari’s claims were ‘completely false’ and ‘forbidden in Islam’.
The source was quoted as saying that the proposal, if it even existed, had not reached parliament — although he admitted the spreading of news of such a draft could be the work of an extremist politician.
Analysts have said the news was a hoax planted by supporters of Hosni Mubarak to defame Egyptian Islamists.
Egyptian prominent journalist and TV anc
hor Jaber al-Qarmouty on Tuesday referred to al-Ahram’s article in his daily show on Egyptian ON TV and criticized the whole notion of “permitting a husband to have sex with his wife after her death under a so-called ‘Farewell Intercourse’ draft law.”
Qarmouty seemed shocked and posed several questions on the issue: “This is very serious. Could the panel that will draft the Egyptian constitution possibly discuss such issues? Did Abdul Samea see by his own eyes the text of the message sent by Talawi to Katatni? This is unbelievable. It is a catastrophe to give the husband such a right! Has the Islamic trend reached that far? Is there really a draft law in this regard? Are there people thinking in this manner?”
Many members of the newly-elected, and majority Islamist parliament, have been accused of launching attacks against women’s rights in the country, especially after the popular uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
They wish to cancel many of the laws that promote women’s rights, arguing that these laws were “aiming to destroy families” and were passed only to please the former first lady of the fallen regime, Suzanne Mubarak, who devoted much of her attention to the issues of granting the women all her rights.
The parliamentary attacks on women’s rights has drawn great criticism from women’s organizations, who dismissed the calls and accused the MPs of wishing to destroy the little gains Egyptian women attained after long years of organized struggle.