Two-wife Muslim may have to quit Denmark
An Iraqi man living in Denmark has been told that if he doesn’t divorce one of his two wives, he will have to leave the country. The unnamed interpreter worked with Danish forces in Iraq before going to Denmark to escape the horrors of war.
The ultimatum presents the man with a tough choice: whether to break with his religious traditions and stay in Denmark, or keep his family intact and return to an uncertain future in Iraq. Denmark is a member of the US-led coalition in Iraq. As it reduces its troop numbers in the region, some local translators are being offered asylum. But one of them is now walking a legal tightrope because he has two wives.
Danish Iraqi Association Chairman Dr Osama Al-Erhayeim says the interpreter is being put in an impossible situation. “He helped the Danish soldiers, the Danish authorities when they were in Iraq and he’s in a dangerous situation not only now but for years to come. He cannot return to Iraq,” Al-Erhayeim said. Osama represents Denmark’s 250,000 Iraqis. Many came to Scandinavia during and after the two Gulf wars. Hero or criminal, the unnamed interpreter risked his life working alongside the Danish troops and coalition forces in Basra. It was there, in his home country, that he married his two wives as permitted under Islamic Law. But in Denmark, these laws don’t apply and the translator may well find himself in front of a court.
The case is a sensitive one, but as the interpreter’s lawyer says: it will be wife number two that may have to leave. Immigration Lawyer Mayanna Vilon says: “It will be the second wife and it will be like a divorce…it will be her that will have the biggest problems”. Vilon believes Danish law doesn’t cover marriages made outside Denmark. But key Danish Muslims believe the translator will have to put the law of the land before religious tradition. Imam Mustafa Chendid, Copenhagen Islamic Community Head, thinks the translator should divorce one of his wives. I think we have a treaty together to respect the law of this country. I don’t think he should violate the constitution of this country,” he said.
It’s now up to a real court to decide the fate of the translator and his wives in this painfully difficult legal battle.