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Indonesian govt naturalizing children of Saudi parentage.

Byline: Ghazanfar Ali Khan

RIYADH: More than 600 stranded children, mainly of Saudi and Arab parentage, have been granted Indonesian citizenship in a move on the part of the Jakarta government to correct their status and integrate them into society. Some of these children, who have become adults now, are of Chinese and Indian origin, said a report released yesterday by the Indonesian Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

"People who leave their children to live like orphans in a foreign country should be ashamed," said Adel Al-Jassim, a social worker in Riyadh.

In a recent case, five Saudi men were deported by Indonesian immigration authorities for arranging temporary (muta'a) marriages, while another Saudi national was released for lack of evidence. They were arrested in Puncak, a hill station south of Jakarta, on charges of violating Indonesian marriage laws.

According to the report, the Indonesian ministry has agreed to register 605 out of a total of 739 people without nationalities.

The report said, quoting a senior government official, that 273 people have already received ID cards, family cards and birth certificates.

The official said his biggest concern was in processing documents of children with Saudi parentage because they were not administratively organized, like the children of Chinese and Indian origin.

The Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh refused to comment on the issue.

"This is an important social issue to be tackled by the two governments," said Ali A. Zahrani, a local academic and writer.

Zahrani said that many Saudis go to different countries and opt for short-term marriages thinking that they are religiously sanctioned.

Muta'a marriages are illegal in Saudi Arabia. They are not to be confused with "no-obligation" marriages, called misyar, which are legally recognized in the Kingdom, where no marital rights have been guaranteed except those agreed upon in a pre-nuptial contract. Muta'a marriages, on the other hand, are considered a wrongful attempt to legitimize adultery.

The Saudi government generally tries to dissuade Saudis from marrying foreign nationals. A media campaign was launched a couple of years ago to highlight problems resulting from mixed marriages.

Non-Saudi women, for example, often find it difficult to adapt to the social environment in the Kingdom. According to a report, Saudis married to Indonesian girls, or any foreign girl for that matter, without official permission from the Ministry of Interior have been facing complications in bringing their wives and children to the Kingdom.

Most marriages in the Kingdom end in divorce, said Abdullah Al-Fawzan, a sociology professor at King Saud University, in a report published recently. He said the number of unmarried Saudi women has exceeded four million because of social problems like dowries spawned by the Kingdom's economic development. These kinds of trends can backfire one day and create social unrest, family conflicts and corruption, he added.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Jul 4, 2008
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