Egypt’s top Islamic authority clashes with president over ‘I divorce you’ law

CAIRO — Egypt’s top Islamic authority on Sunday rejected President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s suggestion that legislation be adopted to invalidate the practice of Muslim men verbally divorcing their wives.

It marked a rare instance of a public institution contradicting the president, who has presided over a wide-scale crackdown on dissent in recent years.

The Council of Senior Clerics in Al-Azhar — the highest authority in Sunni Islam — unanimously ruled that a man telling his wife they are divorced has been an undisputed practice since the days of the Prophet Muhammad.

Muslim women in Egypt cannot verbally divorce their husbands but can apply for divorce in a court.