Monday, June 09, 2008

Is it Multiculturalism or just Liberalism?

Elain Ganley of the AP reported last week on a controversy in France over a judge's decision to nullify a marriage base on the wife's lack of virginity.

The bride said she was a virgin. When her new husband discovered that was a lie, he went to court to annul the marriage - and a French judge agreed.

The ruling ending the Muslim couple's union has stunned France and raised concerns the country's much-cherished secular values are losing ground to cultural traditions from its fast-growing immigrant communities.

Much of the controversy seems to arise from the implication that a court in this avowedly secularist country would seem to be giving the force of law to a Muslim social norm. However, the judge seems to have been seeking to apply the spirit of the 19th century French Civil Code.

Article 180 of the Civil Code states that when a couple enters into a marriage, if the "essential qualities" of a spouse are misrepresented, then "the other spouse can seek the nullity of the marriage." Past examples of marriages that were annulled include a husband found to be impotent and a wife who was a prostitute,...

So where does classic (and advanced) liberalism end and multiculturalism (and legal pluralism) begin?


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