A German attorney specializing in international divorce law emailed me and offered his opinion that the case where the judge cited the Quran isn’t as outrageous as the media has made it out to be. He has written up a summary of the reasons for that opinion. It does place the situation in a bit more context, but I don’t think it really absolves the judge of the accusations made. He points out that the judge did grant a protection order and force the husband out of their home, so it wasn’t like the judge was endorsing domestic violence. Fair enough. But he also says:
The judge informed the wife’s atttorney that one factor that she would consider in the wife’s request for an early divorce was the law of Morocco, where both spouses got married in 2001 according to Islamic law. She also mentioned that the Koran does allow men to physically harm their women under certain circumstances.
Again, I don’t think this absolves the judge much at all. There is no legitimate reason, under any legal circumstances, for the words of the Quran to be any factor at all in the legal proceedings of a liberal democratic nation. Of what possible legal, logical or moral relevance could it possibly be that the Quran says it’s okay for men to physically harm women? None whatsoever. Citing such a fact, even as “one factor” is extraordinarily inappropriate and the judge was rightly removed from the case as a result.
He may be right that the judge’s refusal to fasttrack the divorce was technically correct, but that isn’t really the warrant for the criticism of the judge. The warrant for the criticism is the inappropriate and irrelevant citing of the barbaric and patriarchal views of an alleged holy book as being somehow relevant to the outcome of a case that takes place in a nation where such views are entirely contrary to both the legal and moral reality of the situation.