AMMAN, Jordan — After years of marital disputes, Mary learned that her Christian husband, Michael, had filed for divorce. Mary was surprised when at the same time, he announced his conversion to Islam. It was a calculated decision. According to Article 172 of Jordan’s Personal Status Law, a Muslim father automatically gets custody of children ages seven and above when divorcing a Christian woman. Mary (not her real name) told Al-Monitor that her three children, ages 7, 14 and 16, currently live with her ex-husband and she cannot raise them because she is Christian.
A Nov. 16 investigative article by veteran journalist Nadine Nimri for the online magazine 7iber triggered public debate in Jordan about the plight of Christian women whose husbands convert to Islam before divorcing them for the specific purpose of obtaining guardianship of their children and side-stepping church courts’ jurisdiction.