Monday, May 11, 2015

Muslim Daughter and Christian Mother Celebrate Unity on Mother's Day

Afghan Taliban 'Soften Stance' On Women's Rights, PHOTO: REUTERS

Spain to Raise Marriage Age from 14 To 16
Afghan Taliban 'Soften Stance' On Women's Rights: Activists
Female Saudi Student Leads Group to Thank To Cleveland Police
Wife of Iraqi President Inaugurates New Refugee Complex
#Iran_Ignite Trends after Woman ‘Jumps To Death to Escape Rape’
Citing Lack of Job Choices, Some Saudi Women College Grads Wash Cadavers
Culinary School Fined For Forcing Libya-Born Muslim Woman to Eat Pork
Saudi Divorce Rate High: The ‘Message’ Is Clear — Stop Abusing Social Media
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau


Muslim Daughter and Christian Mother Celebrate Unity on Mother's Day
10 May, 2015
When Alana Raybon converted to Islam, her mother, Patricia, — a devout Christian — was devastated, feeling that she had failed her faith and family. She also felt very angry at her daughter for fragmenting their family.
But after a few terrible fights, they didn't talk about the faith divide for 10 years. "It became the elephant in the room," said Patricia, a long-time member of Shorter Community A.M.E. Church.
When they agreed to start talking about the taboo topic, buried emotions exploded like land mines, triggered by topics from the Boston Marathon bombing to something as simple as Mother's Day.
The process, which took years, is chronicled in their new book, "Undivided: A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace," which shows how overcoming their obstacles dramatically changed Patricia's feeling about Muslims around the world — to the point of speaking out against Islamophobia in the wake of the recent incident at the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Texas in which two men who aligned themselves with the Islamic State terrorist group were shot dead before they could attack participants.
The Raybons' story is getting national attention. They've appeared on the "Today Show" and "Fox & Friends." Last weekend they flew to Los Angeles to appear on the "Tavis Smiley" show on PBS.
On Tuesday, Patricia gave a talk called "Daring to Love My Muslim Daughter" at the Denver Seminary. And Jerry Jenkins of Colorado Springs, the Christian co-author of the best-selling "Left Behind" series, has praised the new book as "a stunner" on his blog.
"I identify with Patricia as a parent and grandparent and felt she was courageous in going public with this heartbreaking struggle," Jenkins said in an e-mail.
Mother and daughter are learning that their reconciliation efforts give hope to others heartbroken over their own shattered families.
"I heard from (people) who said the divide wasn't necessarily a faith divide, but something had come between people in the family," said Patricia, in her mid-60s. "Parents not speaking to daughters or sons, daughters not speaking to parents. People are divided, and they're hurting."
In the book, mother and daughter write in a back-and-forth style, responding to each other's confessions and reflections with a brutal honesty that triggers raw feelings.
"It was news to me that my mother was judging me based on my lack of Mother's Day affection," fumed Alana after learning about her mom's hurt feelings because Alana and her sister don't give gifts on that special day. "If that's what she wants, then I'll shower her with expensive gifts from expensive stores, but it won't change my status as the daughter who ruined our family. I'll still be in the gutter because of my faith choice."
Patricia's closest friend, Denise Materre, knows how hard the process has been. "I remember she went one time to visit Alana on Christmas, and it was such a disaster that she said, 'I'm not doing that again.' They still don't get together on (religious) holidays, but they've found so many wonderful ways to celebrate things together."
Materre also has watched Patricia develop a new openness to the Muslim community, such as the time she attended a breakfast at the Enlighten Foundation, a local group of Christian women, to hear about Muslims in Israel. The speaker was Ishmael Khaldi, the first Bedouin diplomat in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"She really soaked up everything she was hearing and was really trying to be a student," Materre said. "She was especially interested in supporting Bedouin women, in terms of women's health, child care and their ability to be economically self-sufficient."
On this Mother's Day, Patricia and her daughter are celebrating victory in their tumultuous interfaith journey — and they're still talking, prepared for conflicts that may crop up in the future.
"We're closer now than we ever have been in our entire life, and I am so grateful for that," said Alana, 35. "I feel like I know my mother so much more now. I know what she needs."
Patricia is glad she took the risk, despite her fears.
"I thought, 'If this goes bad, I may lose my relationship with my daughter,' " she said one recent afternoon in her Aurora home. "But mothers can't be angry with daughters. As a woman of faith, my anger at Alana for what I thought was a breach in our family just didn't line up with who I say I am as a woman of faith."
For people such as the Rev. Dr. Timothy Tyler of Shorter Community A.M.E. Church, their struggle toward conflict resolution is inspirational.
"It's applicable to our times — whether it's with Baltimore, ISIS (a common acronym for the Islamic State) or the incident that just happened in Texas," he said. "It's apropos to the struggles we're dealing with on many levels."
Deeper relationship
It all started in 2001, when Alana was a student at the University of Northern Colorado, searching for a deeper relationship with God.
Although she had grown up in the church, going with her family every Sunday, she long struggled with the Christian concept of the Trinity. It seemed divisive. And after much religious reading, she chose Islam because of the idea of God being one, "wholly contained without equal," she said.
When she called her mother to say she had converted to Islam, she was surprised by the response.
"There was a really long silence," she said. "It felt like hours."
Patricia politely thanked her daughter for letting her and her husband, Dan, know. She asked about school, then quickly hung up.
"I had no emotional room to respond," Patricia said.
She already felt that her life was falling apart.
"Dan and I had hit a low point in our very long marriage, and so we were trying to do that repair work," she said. "He'd also gotten very sick right before that and had emergency brain surgery that lasted eight hours."
Her elderly mother — also needing help — had just moved in with them, and their older daughter, Joi, struggled to keep her African-American bookstore, Hue-Man Experience, from going under.
She quickly reflected on Alana's personality — a nontraditional child who had dropped out of Fordham University's bachelor of fine arts program at The Ailey School, abandoning her lifelong dream of becoming a dancer. "This was like, 'Another Alana announcement!' " said Patricia, who hoped it would be a passing phase.
"Then a few months later, there was 9/11 and a really deep recognition," she said. "We're in the middle of a global change, and we're just the Raybons in Aurora."
Alana continued to practice her new faith, and by 2003, she had met the man she would marry. He had been raised Catholic but converted to Islam and used the name Iesa, Arabic for Jesus, instead of his given name, Paul.
The wedding took place at Patricia's home. And while she loved her new son-in-law, she secretly hoped the two former Christians would return to their childhood faith.
But a decade later, living in Texas, they remained devout Muslims, parenting their three young children and Iesa's teenage son from a previous marriage. Alana worked as a teacher, and Iesa worked in the interfaith community of Houston, meeting frequently with Jews, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.
Nothing had changed.
""Every visit to her household was like climbing a hard mountain," said Patricia. "We'd have a nice afternoon, and then we'd get ready to go somewhere and she'd put on the hijab, and I'd think, 'Oh yeah, she's a Muslim.' "
Many empathized with her.
"For Patricia, like many people at Shorter, it's not just a matter of religion or tradition — the church is everything to us," Tyler said. "It's our politics, our therapists, it's the center of our community. I can imagine if my children chose something different from that. It would be quite a struggle to put that in perspective."
But as a mother, Patricia could no longer live with a pretense of peace. She suggested they begin sharing their true feelings in writing, which they'd turn into a book.
Alana hesitantly agreed, and they started a dialogue. Neither had experience in conflict resolution. And a year after starting, they had gotten nowhere — still stuck in theological arguments, lobbing Christian and Islamic scripture at each other like grenades.
Finally, exhausted by their negativity, Alana asked her mom why she hadn't inquired about Alana's faith tradition.
"Well, to tell the truth, Alana, I'm not that interested in Islam," Patricia responded.
They had barely broken through that impasse when news of the Boston Marathon bombing hit, which made things far worse.
Something radical?
Alana soon discovered that family members on both sides — hers and her husband's — expressed fears that the Muslim faith would drive them to do something radical.
"It was so shocking to me that our families would think we could ever do something so incredibly horrific," Alana writes. "That people who have known us our whole lives could even begin to worry that we might become murderers was heartbreaking to me."
Shock turned to anger at the disrespect for all the good work they'd done — Iesa had devoted his entire career to building interfaith and multicultural relationships. Alana was an elementary school teacher, a soccer mom who volunteered with Girl Scouts.
"I start to feel the last 10 years of being scorned, not just by the media but also by my family. Mom, in particular," she writes. "I realize I am tired of being disapproved of and shunned as the poster child for what, in her eyes, was a failed attempt to raise me as a Christian."
They didn't speak for weeks.
Then Patricia, a mother intuiting that her daughter was hurting, asked her whether she wanted to quit trying to reconcile.
But Alana decided to keep going, and it took another year — a rocky road that seemed more uphill than down. They read books about reconciliation and forgiveness and dug deep into their respective religious traditions.
Patricia often talked to the Rev. Dawn Riley-Duval, then a social justice minister at Shorter, someone who had spent much time working with people in Denver's many communities of race, culture and religion.
"I heard her concern and confusion, feeling like, 'How did I fail, what did I do wrong?' and I invited her to consider that perhaps there's more to God than Christianity," said Riley-Duval, who attended meetings at a local mosque as part of her interfaith work.
One day, she gave Patricia a Koran.
"Golly, when I approached with it, I could just see in her face that this was burdensome to her," she said. "She was really wrestling with it. I said, 'Just take this. It has blessed me, and I am clear that there is truth in here. Just see what it may say to you.'"
She started to read the Koran and worked on curbing her desire to evangelize to Alana, but then something in the world would make headlines — like the terrorist group Boko Haram, who kidnapped hundreds of girls — and she couldn't stop herself from starting another fight with her daughter.
Ultimately, what changed their trajectory was learning to back down, humbling themselves enough to truly listen to each other.
"For me, a big turning point was for Alana to understand my hurt, and to acknowledge it, and for me in turn to be able to say thank you," Patricia said.
Alana also got the respect she needed for the religious path she had chosen, and their new closeness allowed them to clear up old assumptions.
"Alana told me one time that she thought Dan and I had this perfect life, which is so odd to me," said Patricia. "Because we were working night and day trying to pay off bills. But in her mind, as a child, we didn't need any extra consideration."
Alana — who, with her husband and children, now lives in Nashville, Tenn. — is a full-time working mother who struggles with the same juggling that her mom experienced. Indeed, she sees motherhood with new eyes.
"I think kids feel like parents are strong and don't need emotional support from their children," she said. "So I never thought I needed to be compassionate to my mother."
Patricia, who will celebrate her 40th wedding anniversary in December, applied some of the same lessons learned in couples counseling to making peace with her daughter.
"You have to be committed to bridging the divide, knowing that you're going to have moments when it breaks down, and you get angry or have an argument," said Patricia.
Making peace with her daughter gave her an unexpected gift that she celebrates this Mother's Day.
"During all the time that Alana's been a Muslim, she and her husband introduced me to their friends, and I'd been to their homes, shared wonderful meals and been to weddings," Patricia said. "But until we broke through the stalemate in our relationship, I just didn't have a feel for the humanity of the 1 billion-plus Muslims in the world. I was so stuck on how her faith had divided my family that I wasn't able to see Muslims as people and family members. Terrorism turns our attention to the anomaly of extremism, and encourages us to forget the everyday nature of life for Muslims."
Friends such as Riley-Duval are grateful that they never gave up.
"They're a model for so many because we're in such a diverse, inclusive and revolutionary moment in society," she said. "Rather than keeping themselves in these boxes, separating themselves from each other, they worked to meet each other through the messiness and chose love rather than fear."

Spain to Raise Marriage Age from 14 To 16
10 May, 2015
MADRID — Spain is moving to raise the minimum age for marriage from 14 to 16 in a bid to boost protection of minors and bring the country in line with its European Union neighbours. The legislation was approved by the lower house of Parliament last month and was sent to the Senate on Friday for debate and likely approval over the coming months. Spanish law allows boys and girls to marry at 14 with permission from a judge. Without such consent, they must wait until they are 18. Spain has one of Europe’s lowest minimum ages for marriage in the EU, with most members setting it at 16.

Afghan Taliban 'soften stance' on women's rights: activists
10 May, 2015
KABUL: The Afghan Taliban, condemned for their misogynistic ideology, were surprisingly open with female delegates who attended peace talks in Qatar, pledging support for women’s education and their right to work in “male-dominated professions”, activists said.
Women were brutally consigned to the shadows during the Taliban’s 1996-2001 rule in Afghanistan, denied basic human rights and not allowed to leave their homes without a male chaperone.
But three women who were part of a 20-member Afghan delegation that held informal peace talks with insurgent representatives in Qatar last weekend said they were unanticipatedly receptive to their viewpoint.
“Taliban participants reportedly pledged support for women’s education up to the university level and vowed to permit women to work outside the home, ‘even in male-dominated professions like engineering’,” Heather Barr, a senior Human Rights Watch researcher on women’s rights in Asia, said in a statement.
“These are rights almost entirely banned under the pre-2001 Taliban government, which basically relegated women to their homes except when under male supervision.”
Former MP and women’s rights activist Malalai Shinwari, who attended the talks, also said the Taliban representatives voiced support for female lawmakers and for the right of women to choose their own spouse.
“They paid close attention when I told them ‘you made wearing the burqa compulsory, I used to see the world through small holes in the burqa, through a small window’,” Shinwari told AFP this week.
“I even told them the story of a woman in my village whose two sons died — one fighting for the government and the other for the Taliban. She is devastated after losing her sons,” she said.
Shinwari said she went into the meeting expecting the insurgent delegates would not even greet her, but one elderly Taliban member with a wispy white beard walked up to her and said he had tears in his eyes after hearing her speak.
But Shinwari’s revelations to the media triggered an avalanche of criticism from other activists who accused the Taliban of phony assurances.
It also remains unclear whether the Taliban members have the wider support of insurgent commanders who have waged a war against US-led forces for nearly 14 years.
Barr also weighed in with scepticism.
“The Taliban often says one thing and does another. During the long conflict with the Afghan government, the Taliban have often attacked girls’ schools and teachers, and threatened and killed women’s rights activists and women in public life. These attacks continue,” she said in her statement.
Shinwari was accompanied by two young Afghan women who serve as defence lawyers for Taliban detainees.
“I told the Taliban representatives: ‘You didn’t let these two women go to school, but after your regime ended, they completed university, and today they are lawyers defending the Taliban in government prisons’,” she said.

Female Saudi student leads group to thank to Cleveland police
10 May, 2015
In recent weeks, cities across the United States have seen hundreds and thousands of people take to the streets to protest against the police. The most violent scenes and highest number of arrests were visible in Baltimore, Maryland as residents there expressed their outrage over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Grey who died from a spinal injury while in police custody. Six police officers have now been charged.
At around the same time and some 500 miles away in the state of Ohio, a young female Saudi student from Riyadh, Bushra Al-Harbi was leading a program to express her thanks to the police department and other security officials in Cleveland. Cleveland is home to nearly 400,000 people, and it's where Bushra has called her home away from home while studying at Cleveland State University. There are about 700 students from Saudi Arabia in the area, and many of them are part of the, "Us to U.S.," volunteer program, which encourages students from the Kingdom to volunteer in their local communities. Last year, Bushra founded a specific chapter of the program, "Us to Cleveland," as she wanted to be very specific with her interaction within the local community.
Recalling her first days behind this initiative, Bushra told the Saudi Gazette: "When I started this new chapter there were only four of us — all girls. I was worried I made a bad decision, but one year later there are over 40 of us doing volunteering and expressing our thanks to those who are making Cleveland a better place."
Top of the list for Bushra, and other participants in the "Us to Cleveland" program was a recent initiative to hand out bags of candy to local security officers on campus, residential buildings and even the Cleveland police themselves. The organization designed little bags that looked like a safety lock, and made sure their logo was easy, so people would ask about it.
"The downtown area of Cleveland isn't safe. There are armed robberies and lots of violence. We hadn't seen people ever express their appreciation to those who are trying to keep us safe, so we had little bags of candy made and decided to hand them out to people who are looking after us and our safety. The security officers were just so grateful, and that made us feel good, as we know we made them happy," Bushra told Saudi Gazette.
Perhaps even more surprisingly, the five members of the "Us to Cleveland" group decided to pay an unannounced visit to one the local police precincts. It was the first time any of the Saudi students had been to a police station, much less in the United States. Cleveland has nearly 2,000 police, and certainly the policewoman who greeted the group of Saudi Arabian students walking into the police station was surprised. Recalling the moment, Bushra said: "I could see from her eyes that she was really surprised that we were there to express our appreciation for the work they are doing for our community. I asked to see a police supervisor so we could explain how as Saudi students we had been doing positive things for the people in the Cleveland community. We told him our visit to the police station to give them candy was our way to thank them for keeping us safe."
Once the surprised police supervisor agreed to meet with the group of students from the Kingdom, a few more police stopped by. They all expressed their surprise that people had taken the time to think to do something nice for them, and stop by with a small gift of candy. As one could have perhaps expected, there were lots of questions to the students, including why they would want to thank the police.
"What we explained to them is that as Saudis, and as Muslims, and according to Islam, we are encouraged to help and do good things. He acknowledged that this was a very good idea for us to pursue, and that it certainly changed his perception of students from Saudi Arabia," Bushra said.
Bushra's outreach to U.S. law enforcement comes as she graduates on Saturday (May 9), with a master's degree in early childhood education. Ironically one of her strongest memories of doing her degree in Ohio, comes thanks to the police department. In a scene that seems taken out out of a movie, she says many of the students attending Cleveland State University rely on the police and other security to get them home at night. As the campus is in a bad area of town and they study late at night police often put students in the back of their patrol cars to drop them safely at home. "Sitting in the back of a police car when I know criminals may have sat there before is a strange feeling, but I so appreciate them getting me home safely," she said.
This positive story about Saudi civilians interacting with U.S. police, comes as the United States sees continued distrust of its security forces across the country. Americans are frequently questioning police racial bias and brutality. The recent riots in Baltimore which led to over 250 people being injured really made Bushra think about how everyone needs to do more positive things in life. "I don't think violence should be used to get what you want. It's sad to see families and cities destroyed like this. It's also sad to see teenagers on the streets. I think studying makes all the difference, and it makes us good human beings in the future," she said.
Perhaps it is time for the people of Baltimore to look at the approach of these courageous young students from Saudi Arabia, who truly made an indelible impact on the Cleveland police. A thoughtful gesture goes a long way, and in this case all it took was a bag of candy and the openness of respect on both sides, and of saying "Thank you."

Wife of Iraqi president inaugurates new refugee complex
10 May, 2015
The wife of the Iraqi president has inaugurated Saturday a new complex south of Baghdad aimed at welcoming internally displaced people, Al Arabiya’s Jawad al-Hatab reported.
“Iraq will not stand idly in regards to Iraqi refugees’ suffering and ordeal resulting from the continuous terrorist attacks on innocent residents who belong to all different components in several areas,” Ronak Mustafa , the wife of President Fouad Maassoum, said during the opening of Iraq Tent.
During the inauguration, Mustafa, who appeared in front of the media for the first time, stressed the importance of “supporting the refugees and helping them until they can go back to their homes.”
She said that the refugee issue, which she described as a “national issue” and a “humanitarian crisis,” concerns everyone.
The opening of the camp was attended by a number of politicians and social personalities.
The conflict in Iraq has forced more than 2 million people from their homes in 2014 according to the annual report by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

#Iran_Ignite trends after woman ‘jumps to death to escape rape’
10 May 2015
Twitter users vented anger at Iranian authorities this week following news that a 25-year-old Kurdish woman had allegedly jumped to her death to escape a rape attempt by an Iranian intelligence official.
Using the #Iran_ignite hashtag, users condemned the death of Farinaz Khosrawani, who was reported to have jumped from the fourth floor of a hotel building last week.
Khosrawani was reportedly an employee of Tarai hotel in Mahabad, an ethnically Kurdish city of 280,000 in the north-west of Iran.
The hotel was later burned down by hundreds of Kurds during a protest against her death.
The protesters claimed local authorities failed to properly investigate Khosrawani’s death, alleging she died after the hotel’s guard attempted to rape her and she fled by trying to jump out of the building.
On Friday, local authorities announced that an individual has been detained over the death.
“The people must wait until the investigation results are out to find out the reason behind Khosrawani's death,” Jaafar Katani, Muhabat mayor, told Iranian news site Rudaw.

Citing Lack of Job Choices, Some Saudi Women College Grads Wash Cadavers
10 May, 2015
Several unemployed Saudi women have been forced to work as washers of dead bodies in hospitals and other centres.
Salwa Al-Qahtani, director of the women’s section at Asir Municipality, said most of the women coming forward to take up the work of body washing have an intermediate school certificate or university degree. While some of them take the task as a charitable service, others are driven to the job by poverty. The municipality supervises washing establishments in the province.
There are a number of body-washing centres that work as charitable endowments where body washers are employed adhering to certain procedures with licenses issued by competent authorities or courts.
Women can become qualified for the work by attending a training program on ritual cadaver washing organized by the Dawa centres of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance and obtain a certificate to show that they have completed training.
A supervisor at a body-washing unit, Maodi Abdul Aziz, 29, said “I have a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies, but the difficulty in getting a job in my field forced me to look for a job in the washing centre as many university graduates do, especially if your are from a poor background.”
She said the monthly salary she receives is SR2, 000 including a transport allowance even though her responsibility is huge. She decries the social attitude of looking at those who practice this job as inferior creatures.
Fatima Abdul Salam,35, holder of a bachelor’s degree in Arabic language from King Abdul Aziz University, is unhappy about her present job of washing cadavers. She said one of the major problems she faces is the negative attitude of her neighbors and other members of society about her profession.
She said she unsuccessfully waited for nine years after graduation to get a good government job with the help of the Civil Service Ministry but eventually lost hope and turned to this job which most people hate to take up.
Suad Ali, 36, who has a bachelor’s degree in special education from King Abdul Aziz University and is now working as washer of bodies, said: “I am divorced and have been working in this field for four years. I looked for a good job for many years and in the meantime I was divorced. I had to feed my three children who are in my custody and I did not have any other income. This is the only work available for me and I have no other choice but to accept it because of my poor circumstances.”
Another cadaver washer, Umm Taif, said washing the dead requires patience and courage to bear the sight of mutilated bodies, especially those who died in traffic accidents. “On one occasion, a woman who died in a traffic accident, with some body parts missing, was brought to us. I patiently washed and shrouded it,” she said.

Culinary School Fined For Forcing Libya-Born Muslim Woman to Eat Pork
Denmark: Culinary school to pay compensation for forcing Muslim to ‘taste’ pork
10 May, 2015
A Danish court has ordered a culinary school in Denmark's Holstebro town to pay a Muslim woman 40,000 Danish krone, or around $6,000, in damages for forcing her to taste pork as part of her classes, a Danish daily reported Friday.
According to the daily Politiken, the 24-year-old student studied at the Holstebro Culinary School and was told that she too like other students would have to taste her own food that she cooks as part of her education.
The student, who was not named by the paper, filed a complaint against the school with the Equal Treatment Board and said she was being discriminated on religious grounds. She also reportedly stopped going to the school as a result of the requirement to eat pork, which Muslims believe is prohibited to eat in Islam.
The daily said that the student had arrived in the country as a baby from Libya and was aware that the school asked students to prepare food with pork and wine. However, the requirement to eat the food also was said to be a recent requirement, according to the paper.
The board had agreed with the student’s claim of discrimination and asked the school to pay the student $75,000 in damages.
The school challenged the board’s verdict at a Danish high court and took the position that the student had in fact taken many leaves and it was because of this reason that she was not being allowed to graduate.
Politiken said that the student dismissed the allegation against her and produced an audio recording of the conversation she had with the school’s management about the issue, during which she was apparently told that she was being asked to only taste and not swallow the pork dishes.
After hearing both sides, the court decided that the school would pay the student $6,005 compensation, which was considerably less than the $70,000 asked for.

Saudi divorce rate high: The ‘message’ is clear — stop abusing social media
10 May, 2015
Social media networks including Facebook and WhatsApp are playing a big role in increasing the number of divorce cases in Saudi Arabia. According to one report, more than 30,000 divorces take place in the Kingdom every year and 82 every day.
The Justice Ministry reported 33,954 divorce cases in 2014. Makkah region accounted for the largest number of 9,954 cases while Jeddah topped among Saudi cities with 5,306 cases.
Fadhil Al-Omani, a Saudi researcher, identified 10 main reasons for the increasing number of divorce cases in the country including the misuse of Internet and social media that triggers distrust, especially among new couples.
Other reasons include a lack of understanding among the couple, cultural and educational differences, extramarital affairs and negligence of wives and husbands in carrying out their duties in addition to financial and family problems.
Dr. Musfir Al-Malees, a family consultant, said social networking sites have contributed to at least 25 percent of divorce cases in the Kingdom.
According to a survey covering marriage officials, 20 percent of divorces take place as a result of extramarital affairs unveiled through the exchange of messages and photos on the social media, he said.
Analyst Badr Almotawa said the government and social institutions have taken up the issue seriously. “The Shoura is currently discussing a proposal that insists new couples undergo a special training course before marriage. This will play an important role in reducing divorce cases,” he told Arab News.
Almotawa said the number of divorce cases is increasing not only in Saudi Arabia, but also in other countries because of a deterioration in moral values. “This is a serious issue and all should work together to reduce the number of divorce cases in our society, especially religious leaders,” he said.

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