Government proposes allowing muftis to conduct civil marriage ceremonies

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A proposal to allow muftis, supervisors of imams in local mosques, to perform civil marriage ceremonies has been presented to the Turkish Parliament, the Birgün daily reported on Tuesday.

A mufti works under the Religious Affairs Directorate and deals with the religious affairs of Muslims in provinces and districts. While muftis do not have the legal authority to marry couples, this is bound to change in the event the bill is approved by Parliament.

The bill, which was previously discussed, received criticism from experts who argued it would allow an increase in child marriages.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Şenal Sarıhan had asked in a parliamentary question: “From what need is this kind of transfer of authority born? Are marriage officers and municipalities not able to meet the need? What is being planned, under circumstances that will emerge after this change, to prevent the continuous sexual abuse and exploitation of children under the status of ‘marriage’ and ‘marriage by an imam,’ which is already very common in Turkey and which is causing social problems and violations of rights?”

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