German judge and legal Orientalism

“The Friday New York Times reported that a German judge denied a Moroccan woman’s request for an expedited divorce from her Moroccan husband – despite the apparently undisputed evidence that the husband had repeatedly abused her – on the grounds that such conduct is ‘common’ in Morocco and that the ‘Koran … sanctions such physical abuse’.

“While the condemnations of this decision have been swift, some of the criticism has been for the wrong reasons. Of course, there is the pious outrage of the German politician Ronald Pofalla, general secretary of the Christian Democratic Union, who somewhat hyperbolically took the verdict as (further?) evidence that Islam threatens the German body politic. The New York Times quoted this far-sighted politician as saying ‘When the Koran is put above the German Constitution, I can only say, “Good night, Germany”.’

“Not much has been made of the utter casualness with which this judge could make gross generalizations about Moroccans, the Quran and, implicitly, Islamic law.”

Mohammad Fadel at, 26 March 2007

See also New York Times, 23 March 2007