In this Middle Eastern country, a woman of the majority religion married a man from another religion. Her family had no problems with it, but the couple lives in fear of being exposed to the religious authorities as an interfaith couple. Meanwhile, the majority of this state’s young people support a couple’s right to civil marriage.
Israel, right? Try its neighbor to the north, Syria.
While Israel (justly) gets flak for its antiquated, inconsistent and prejudicial approach to interfaith marriage, the Arab countries that surround it are no better–and in many cases worse. Take Syria.
In Syria, it is illegal for Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men (which is consistent with Islamic religious law). For the two to marry, the man must convert to Islam. However:
[even] the legal step [of conversion] does not protect [mixed-faith couples] from persecution and murder…
Attorney Du’a Moussa, who deals with women’s [rights], points out, ‘The Syrian penal code exempts families [from punishment] in cases of honor killings, and the murder of Muslim women who marry non-Muslim men falls under this category…’
Like Israel, public opinion toward intermarriage is mixed. According to a poll of 500 university students undertaken by the Syrian weekly Al-Nour, while nearly a third said a member of their family was intermarried, 40 percent said they would prefer to sever relations with anyone who married outside the faith. At the same time, however, 41 percent said they were in favor of interfaith and inter-sect marriages. Nearly 80 percent said they were opposed to or condemned honor killings of women who married non-Muslim men, which is good, until you realize that 5.6 percent–or 28 of the students polled–supported honor killings. Even Israeli’s haredi don’t take such an extreme position.
And consider this: in comparison to its Arab and Muslim neighbors, Syria is considered a “secular” state.
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