RIYADH – Saudi Arabia has promised to allow a couple who were forced to divorce by a religious court to live together again, a UN official said on Wednesday, ending a case that has embarrassed the Islamic state abroad.
Fatima Azzaz and Mansour Al Timani were forced to separate in 2006 after her brothers persuaded judges that her husband was not of sufficiently prestigious tribal stock.
It is one of a series of cases that have drawn international criticism of human rights in Saudi Arabia, a key US ally which is also the world’s top oil exporter.
“˜I met Fatima and Mansour and they are both in a terrible state, they are both suffering,” Yakin Erturk, UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on violence against women said.
“˜I have been assured by the authorities this issue will be dealt with and, God willing, they will reunite,” she told reporters after a 10-day fact-finding trip to the country of 24 million.
Fatima Azzaz is being held in a government home for orphans with a young son. She refuses to return to her family home as required by a court order divorcing her from her husband, who has custody of their daughter.
“˜It has no basis in Islam, that’s for sure, because in Islam everybody is equal,” said Erturk, a Muslim from Turkey.