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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2008, 20:43 GMT
Woman to conduct Egypt marriages
By Frances Harrison
BBC religious affairs reporter

Egypt has appointed a woman to conduct Muslim marriages for the first time.

Amal Soliman, 32, has broken centuries of tradition by being chosen as a judicial assistant who officiates at weddings, known as a maazun.

Some commentators are saying she is the first female in the Muslim world authorised to conduct religious marriages.

The mother of three has a masters degree in law which helped her beat 10 male candidates to get the job.

As a maazun or notary, Ms Soliman will read verses from the Koran at ceremonies, sign marriage certificates and authorise divorce contracts.

She will work in the town of Qinayat east of Cairo where her father-in-law also conducted marriages until he died recently.

Ms Soliman has told the Egyptian press that as a woman she will be able to check the bride really wants to marry the groom and is not being forced by her family.

She also says she will be better able to dissuade women from seeking divorce.

One issue that has been raised is that a menstruating woman or one who has just given birth is not allowed to enter a mosque, but Ms Soliman has been quoted as saying that during such times she will conduct marriages in people's homes or wedding halls.

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