By Aisha Ali-Khan

The ongoing case involving Afsana Lachaux and her former husband Bruno Lachaux was reported in depth yesterday, in the leading French newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche.
Last month, Afsana Lachaux travelled to the French capital to attend a hearing at the Tribunal of Grande Instances, Paris. Bruno Lachaux had applied to the French courts to have his Islamic divorce recognized under French law. For those of you who have been following this case, you will be aware that this divorce was granted under Sharia law whilst both Bruno Lachaux and his then wife Afsana Lachaux, were residing in Dubai, UAE.

Afsana and Bruno Lachaux before their Sharia divorce

Afsana and Bruno Lachaux before their Sharia divorce

This latest round of court hearings present an intriguing twist to the already complicated case; here you have a Catholic Frenchman effectively asking a French court to recognise the validity of a document that has been issued under Sharia law in another country. Bearing in mind the difficult relationship that France has with Sharia law at the moment, with the ban on the hijab, and the recent terrorist attacks involving the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, you would think that French nationals would have been more sensitive to the legal and political climate of France.
In an investigative piece, journalist Bruna Basini writes
“..if the French justices accepts this judgment…then she (Afsana Lachaux) accepts that the principles of the Quran that inspires the family law of the UAE will be applied not only in France but will ricochet elsewhere in else Europe.”
Perhaps this is why the French media are now taking an interest in this case; if an Islamic divorce is allowed to be recognised, then what message will that send to the rest of France? Right now, France is going through a phase of limiting what many refer to as ‘Sharia creep,’ the slow process of introducing and integrating Islamic law into the everyday fabric of French society.
An expert has further argued that the Lachaux case may be an example of ‘forum shopping,’ the act of ‘shopping around for the best legal system in which to file a civil case.
European spouses filing for divorce in countries such as the UAE, which practice strict Sharia law, may do so because these laws predominantly “promote(s) the interests of men.”
Now that the French media are sitting up and taking notice of the latest chapter in this case, it will no doubt shine a new light on France’s current relationship with Islam.

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Le Journal du Dimanche article first published October 11, 2015
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