A German judge has stirred a storm of protest in Frankfurt, Germany, by citing the Koran in turning down a German Muslim wife's request for a fast-track divorce on the ground that her husband beat her.
In a remarkable ruling that underlines the tension between Muslim customs and European laws, the judge, Christa Datz-Winter, said the couple came from a Moroccan cultural environment in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives. The Koran, she wrote, sanctions such physical abuse.
News of the ruling brought swift and sharp condemnation from politicians, legal experts, and Muslim leaders in Germany; many of whom said they were confounded that a German judge would put seventh-century Islamic religious teaching ahead of German law in deciding a case of domestic violence.
While legal experts said the ruling was a judicial misstep rather than evidence of a broader trend, it comes at a time of rising tensions in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, as authorities in many fields struggle to reconcile Western values with their burgeoning Muslim minorities.
Last fall, a Berlin opera house canceled performances of a modified Mozart opera because of security fears stirred by an added scene that depicted the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad.
Stung by charges that it had surrendered its artistic freedom, it staged the opera three months later without incident.
To some people here, the ruling reflects a similar compromising of basic values in the name of cultural sensitivity.
Muslim leaders agreed that Muslims living here must be judged by the German legal code, but they were just as offended by what they characterized as the judge's misinterpretation of a much-debated passage in the Koran governing relations between husbands and wives.
For some people, the greatest damage done by this episode is to other Muslim women suffering from domestic abuse. Many already fear going to court against their spouses.
There have been a series of so-called "honor killings" here in which Turkish Muslim men have murdered women.