Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Iranian government has begun implementing controversial legislation that allows women to inherit all forms of their husband's property.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has issued a decree that instructs all government bodies to enforce a recently passed law, modifying women's inheritance rights, Iranian newspapers reported on Wednesday.

On January 25, the Iranian parliament passed legislation making it possible for women to inherit up to a quarter of the land and standing property that their husbands owned while alive.

The previous law only allowed women to inherit a portion of portable property and those non-portables that were standing, such as buildings, trees and such. However, the new legislation has added ground assets, such as land, to that list.

The president ordered the legislation to be implemented, in spite of the Guardian Council's silence over the issue.

According to Iranian law, the Guardian Council, made up of six religious and six legal experts, must approve all parliamentary legislations before they can become law.

However, if the Council decides to not take any official stance on any legislation in a set period of time, the legislation becomes official automatically, as in the case of the new legislation on women's inheritance rights.

The Guardian Council's decision to remain silent on the issue follows heavy criticism from several top religious figures, who view the legislation as in clear contradiction with the Islamic law.

Commenting on the criticism, the country's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said that the parliament passed the law after receiving approval from the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

"The Guardian Council asked the Leader for a Fatwa [religious ruling] on the matter and the parliament passed the Leader's exact Fatwa," Larijani explained.

In defense of the decision, Iranian journalist and legal expert Majid Dehlavi says the implementation of the new inheritance law is 'a step in the right direction.'

"This new law is far more in harmony with the social system governing our relations," Dehlavi told Press TV on Thursday.

"The previous law was used in the past to safeguard the property of the children after their mothers remarried, but that has nothing to do with the society we live in today," he added.

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