Q: Did a judge in Montana rule that a “Muslim man can marry 9-year-old girl”?
A: No. The couple in the “wedding” photo are actually actors who were part of an advocacy group’s campaign to fight child marriage in Lebanon.
Child marriage is an issue in America. More than 200,000 minors were married between 2000 and 2015, according to a report from PBS’ “Frontline.”
But a Muslim judge in Montana did not approve the marriage of a 9-year-old girl to a Muslim man, as has been widely reported online.
In fact, Montana law sets the minimum age for marriage at 16 years old with judicial approval and 18 without it. Most states set the minimum age at 18 with exceptions for those between the ages of 16 and 18, according to a recent survey from the National Conference of State Legislatures comparing the marriage laws in all 50 states.
A story with the headline “BREAKING: Muslim Judge Rules Muslim Man Can Marry 9-year-Old Girl In Montana” has been gaining popularity on Facebook and was flagged by users as potentially fake. It is.
The story originated on a website called Freedum Junkshun, which claims to be satirical and describes its aim as trolling aging conservatives. It says in its “about” section at the bottom of each page: “Here we gather a boatload of bullhonkey, works of pure satirical fiction, to give the fist-shakers of the world a reason to hate. Reality is often in the eye of the beholder. You won’t find any of it here.”
The story says that a judge named Rahid Musad, of the 19th Circuit Court, handled the case. However, the Montana state courts are referred to as district courts, not circuit courts, and the 19th Judicial District, located in the far northwest corner of the state, has no such judge.
The picture used to illustrate the fictional judge is actually of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina, who is the first Muslim judge in California, according to a UCLA description of him that used the same picture.
The other photo that ran with the story shows a gray-haired man with a 12-year-old girl in a wedding dress. But it was staged. The couple are actors, and the photo was taken in 2015 by an organization called KAFA that advocates women’s rights in Lebanon. The photo was part of a public relations campaign to bring attention to the issue of child marriage.
The photos are labeled “makinyamad,” which reads as “making you mad,” by the website.
Tsui, Anjali, et. al. “Child Marriage in America.” Frontline.org. 6 Jul 2017.
National Conference of State Legislatures. “Marriage age laws.” Accessed 6 Nov 2017.
“BREAKING: Muslim Judge Rules Muslim Man Can Marry 9-year-Old Girl In Montana.” Freedumjunkshun.com. 25 Oct 2017.
Wells, Laura. “‘Is she yours? Congratulations’: Shocking comments made to grey-haired ‘groom’ who pretended to marry girl, 12, to highlight plight of child brides in Lebanon.” Daily Mail. 8 Dec 2015.