Lebanese Cabinet endorses Hrawi civil marriage plan
Lebanon, Politics, 3/20/1998
The Lebanese Cabinet on Thursday night endorsed a proposal submitted by President Hrawi to deal with civil marriage as a voluntary option for couples, ignoring strong opposition from Christian and Muslim clergy, who view the procedure as sacrilegious.
Chairman of the Higher Shiite Islamic Council in Lebanon Sheikh Muhammad Shamseddine immediately rejected the Cabinet vote as he said he would coordinate his next move towards this issue with the Mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Muhammad Rashid Qabbani. Qabbani, in Saudi Arabia, was told about the decision and pledged to respond to this effort when he returns to Beirut today, according to a source at the Lebanese al-Ifta house.
Hrawi told the Lebanese Cabinet at a meeting in Baabda presidential palace that his civil marriage proposal "is the prelude for a more comprehensive target: to abolish sectarianism as I prepare to leave office."
Information minister Bassem al-Saba said Prime Minister Hariri preferred that consultations are held so that a consensus is achieved before moving forward on such a sensitive issue. Prime Minister Hariri insisted that the timing was inappropriate because the issue may cause political divisions.
There is support among many Lebanese for this option to be available for citizens who chose to exercise civil marriage. Also, analysts view President Hrawi move as a positive sign in moving Lebanon away from sectarianism that has damaged the country and its political system in the past.
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