Female Judges on Palestine’s Islamic Benches

Islamic courts (courts that use Sharia law to determine cases) are traditionally dominated by men.  This was certainly true of the Islamic courts in the Arab World except for Sudan.  And now, Palestine.  Ramallah’s Khuloud Faqih, 34, and Hebron’s Asmahan Liwuheidi, 31, were the first female Islamic judges to be appointed in the West Bank.

Faqih and Liwuheidi deal with domestic issues (marriage, divorce, inheritance and custody, etc.), relying on Islamic jurisprudence rather than secular rules.

There had been initial opposition but the respected Chief Justice of Palestine, Sheikh Tayseer al Tamimi, challenged the traditional Islamic view that women could not be Sharia judges, making it possible for history to be made in Palestine.

Immediately after the appointments, both happy women were quoted in the press.  Faqih:  “I compare us to other Arab Muslim women, and I think we’ve done well.  I think I’ve opened a door for myself and other women.”

Liwuheidi:  “The woman is a very important element in these cases and when she comes here to ask for her rights, she wants to find a woman like her in the court.”

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