Surabaya interfaith marriage faces legal challenge

Photo: Jeremy Wong/Unsplash
Photo: Jeremy Wong/Unsplash

Several busybodies who appear to take offense to the marriage between an interfaith couple in Surabaya have filed a lawsuit against a court decision to uphold their union.

Among the biggest news stories in Indonesia this week is the Surabaya District Court granting a request by a Muslim groom, RA, and a Christian bride, EDS, to marry in a landmark ruling in the city. The court cited unwed cohabitation prevention as a reason for its decision.

Related — Surabaya court allows interfaith marriage to prevent cohabitation

Today, four civilians — whose political or religious affiliations are not yet known — filed a lawsuit with the Surabaya District Court challenging its previous ruling, effectively demanding that it annuls RA and EDS’ marriage. The plaintiffs argued that their union is against the law.

The lawsuit lists the Supreme Court, the Surabaya Population and Civil Registry (Dukcapil), the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) among the defendants.

Ironically, Dukcapil actually rejected RA and EDS’ initial request to have their marriage officially recognized until they were forced to do so by the court ruling. 

MUI has also publicly denounced the marriage, asking the Surabaya District Court to reverse its ruling. It also issued a fatwa (religious edict) in 2005 declaring interfaith marriages haram (forbidden).

Indonesian law is somewhat vague on the validation of interfaith marriages. One clause in the Marriage Law states that a marriage is valid “if conducted according to laws of religion and belief of both parties.”

While minority religions in Indonesia may allow the practice, the mainstream belief among Indonesian Muslims is that interfaith marriage is forbidden.

Legal attempts to separate marriage from religion have failed in the past.

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