Marriage with foreigners

In Egypt, less than 1% of marriages are to non-Egyptians according to the 2006 national census, and only around a third of men and less than a tenth of women under 30 say they would marry a foreigner. Despite this marital nationalism, the reality is that men and women are taking spouses from outside the region and when they do, it can cause something of a stir. Case-in-point is Morocco, where local women marrying visiting Europeans is raising a storm because of the grooms’ religion. According to the Qur’an, women are forbidden from marrying unbelievers; this has been interpreted through the ages as to prohibit their marriage to non-Muslims in general, although men, as we’ve seen are allowed to marry Christians and Jews. In Morocco, marriage to foreigners can be a ticket to a more prosperous life (both for a woman and her family), and has become easier since the 2004 reform of the country’s personal status laws that no longer require a guardian’s approval for women over the age of consent to marry. However, some religious scholars are up in arms because they consider such marriages haram, even if the husband converts; they argue this is just for show and will lapse as soon as the couple leaves the country. For an example of this lively debate, see