Israel appoints first female shari’a judge

Israel has appointed the ever first female judge (Qadi) to the Muslim Shari’a Courts.

Hana Khatib, an expert in Shari’a law from Tamra in the lower Galilee, was sworn in yesterday at the President’s residence with four other new judges.

Hana Khatib said: “This is a really big victory, and it really shows how the courts can support equality for women.”

President Rivlin said that Khatib’s appointment was a “testament to the positive changes in the status of women”, and expressed hope that the appointment “will be the first of many”.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said “we are shattering another glass ceiling”, and stressed the importance of “sending a message to girls everywhere to go, invest, study, and excel”.

Following a written exam and a selection process conducted by the Justice Ministry’s Committee to Elect Sharia Judges, Khatib was unanimously appointed on 25 April by a nine-member panel that includes the Justice Minister, three Knesset members (two of whom must be Muslim), two Israeli Bar Association members (both of whom must be Muslims) and three sitting Shari’a court judges.

Shari’a courts in Israel deal with personal status issues for the Muslim community, such as marriage, divorce, conversion and inheritance. They have existed since Ottoman times and were recognised by the State of Israel in 1948. In 1961, the Knesset integrated the Shari’a courts into Israel’s judicial system. There are nine Shari’a courts in Israel, including two new courts in the cities of Taybeh and Sakhnin.

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