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EU court rejects German ruling on Islamic divorce case

The European Union’s top court has refused to endorse a court ruling in Germany that had recognized a divorce granted under the Islamic law to a Syrian-German couple.

The court ruled on Wednesday that the divorce granted in 2013 in Syria to Raja Mamisch and Soha Sahyouni, who married in Syria and live in Germany, was a private agreement and was not covered by the EU’s divorce regulations.

A state court in Munich had granted an application by Mamisch to have the divorce recognized in Germany, saying the EU’s “Rome III” regulation applied to the case.

However, the Munich court asked for the European Court of Justice’s opinion after Sahyouni launched an appeal. The EU court then ruled that Rome III did not apply to such “private” divorces and sent the case back to Germany, saying it should be decided under the national law. It said only divorces that had been granted by a national court or under the supervision of a public authority could be within the scope of the Rome III regulation.

The Munich court said after the EU ruling was issued that it would wait for the full European Court of Justice decision.

The case and the EU court ruling could affect Germany’s efforts to integrate more than a million refugees who have arrived in the country since early 2015 as part of a historic flow. Many of those refugees are Syrians who fled war in their country.

The government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel has faced backlashes over the liberal asylum policy as Merkel struggles to form a functioning coalition nearly three months after winning a fourth term in office.

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