Controversy over Christian-Muslim marriages in Portugal
Controversy raged in Portugal on Thursday over statements by a leading Catholic clergyman who warned against marriages between Christians and Muslims. Bishops sided with Lisbon patriarch Jose Policarpo, while human rights activists and people living in mixed marriages slammed him for intolerance, reported dpa.
Cardinal Policarpo advised young Portuguese Catholic women to "be careful" and to "think twice" before marrying Muslims.
"It is getting into a pile of troubles, that not even Allah knows where they would end," Policarpo said Tuesday in comments that were repeated in media reports.
"I know that if a young European of Christian background marries a Muslim, as soon as they go to his country, they'll be subject to the regime of Muslim women," Policarpo said. "Just imagine it."
Bishops interviewed by the daily Correio da Manha sided with Policarpo, saying that Islam was not in favour of mixed marriages.
Portuguese Bishops' Conference President Jorge Ortiga earlier described Policarpo as an advocate of inter-religious dialogue.
Ortiga said the Catholic Church had nothing against its faithful marrying people of other religions, but that such marriages should respect Catholic family values.
Portugal's Islamic community of about 40,000 people was "hurt and surprised" by Policarpo's words, its representative Abdul Magid Vakil was quoted by press reports as saying.
However, the patriarch's views could be interpreted as a call to "respect differences" and to seek knowledge about the other religion, Vakil added.
The human rights group Amnesty International slammed Policarpo for inciting "discrimination" and "intolerance."
Some Portuguese who had married foreign Muslims said they felt offended.
Newspapers published interviews with mixed couples whose marriages had not always led to the conversion of one partner. Some couples said they observed both Ramadan and Christmas.
Most of Portugal's Muslims come from the country's former African colonies in Senegal, North Africa, Asia and Egypt.