The First authorized Woman to Perform Islamic Marriage Ceremonies in Egypt Threatens to Sue an Actress
By Iqbal Tamimi
The first ever authorized woman to perform marriage ceremonies in Egypt is threatening to sue the actress Hanan Turk during the holy month of Ramadan, because of the role she has performed in a drama series entitled «Crazy Nona».
Three years ago, the Zagazig Family Court in Sharqiyah, appointed Amal Suleiman Afifi, mother of three as the first Woman Marriage Officer in Egypt. Afifi is now threatening to file a lawsuit against the actress Hanan Turk, following the broadcasting of the Promo of a series that is supposed to be shown during the holy month of Ramadan, depicting Afifi’s work in a comic way. The series in discussion, ‘Nona Almajnoona’, which translates to ‘Crazy Nona’ is expected to be shown on a number of Arab satellite channels during the coming holy month of Ramadan.
Afifi who carries a Bachelor of Law Degree from Zagazig University (1998) and a Master Degree in General Law and Criminal Sciences (2005) said that she felt outraged when she saw the promo that reflected her in a satirical way. Salah Hamid, an Egyptian journalist claims that this comic approach is necessary; aiming to attract the audiences by generating laughter, but it seems that Afifi disagrees with this justification.
Afifi said ‘The Promo shows me wearing men’s clothes, and dancing, and in other scenes, the police arrest me. This is outrageous; it shows total disrespect to this respected profession”.
She explains “I went through a legal battle until I won. I was granted the permission to perform this service and to work in this field from the court, which has never happened before. I have paved the way for all women to work in this profession. Since my appointment, the number of women who are authorized to perform Islamic marriage ceremonies in Egypt has increased to eight women. In the past three years while I was working as a registrar of marriages, I have never encountered any of the problems shown in the drama”.
“Crazy Nona” has been written by Fathi Eljundi and directed by Manal Saifi, which happens to be her first experience in television drama directing. The leading role is played by Hanan Turk, co-starring Saeed Tarabake, Wael Ala’a, Abdullah Musharraf, Iman ElSayed and Amirah AlAydi.
It was not until recently that women have assumed top positions in the Judiciary system in Egypt. According to Egypt’s State Information Service, in 2004, it was estimated that out of a total of 1912 members, 72 women worked at the State Prosecution Service (SPS) as well as at the Administrative Prosecution Service (APS). Only recently, a woman became a member of the Supreme Constitutional Court, the highest post in Egypt. But 31 female judges were appointed by a Presidential decree in 2007.
The appointment of ‘Afifi by the Court was met by fierce resistance from both lawyers and religious clerics. A few Islamic scholars claimed that according to Islam, the testimony of two women was equivalent to one man in court and therefore a marriage contract signed by a woman would be considered illegal.
Others claimed, however, that by executing the work of a marriage officer ‘Afifi should not be considered a witness, but rather an official, and therefore her signature on the contract did not contravene the rules of Islam.
Hanan Turk, who plays the role of Crazy Noona, is an actress and former ballerina, and worldwide ambassador for the international UK based charity, Islamic Relief. In 2006 she chose to wear the Islamic head scarf (hijab), joining a group of leading Egyptian actresses who have taken the same decision like Hala Shiha, Suhair Babelly, Suhair Ramzy, Shaheera, Sabreen and Abla Kamel among many others.