There's a legal storm brewing in France.
The French government said it will appeal a court decision to grant a marriage annulment to a Muslim on the grounds his wife lied about her virginity, after the verdict sparked a public uproar.
Justice Minister Rachida Dati has asked state prosecutors to file an appeal against the ruling handed down in Lille in northern France, the justice ministry said in a statement.
"The annulment of a marriage by the high court in Lille has sparked a heated social debate. This private affair reached beyond the scope of two people and concerns all citizens in our country, particularly women," it said.
News of the ruling, which was handed down in April but revealed last week, sparked an uproar among French politicians and women's rights campaigners, but also French Muslim figures.
French Urban Affairs Fadela Amara, a practising Muslim and women's rights activist, called it "a fatwa against women's emancipation".
The man suspected that his new bride, also a Muslim, was not a virgin on their wedding night in July 2006 because the bedsheets were not stained with blood. The woman later admitted to him she had had sex before their marriage.
The court granted the request after ruling the man had been "mistaken about the essential qualities" of his wife-to-be.
The big problem is, the wedding was conducted according to French civil law - not according to Muslim religious law. If the annulment is allowed to stand, it effectively means that any man in France - not only Muslims - could use his wife's non-virgin status as grounds to annul his marriage. That would lead to legal turmoil.
Shows what happens when courts try to be sensitive to religious principles. A court should uphold the law of the land, and ignore specific religious principles. Those are for the religion itself to decide, not the courts. If a person of faith tries to make the court support his faith, then the law itself is at risk.