RABAT - A Moroccan theologian repeated his claims Sunday that Muslim girls could marry as early as nine years old, arguing it was sanctioned by the Prophet Mohammed.
"The marriage of nine-year-old girls is not forbidden because according to the Hadith (the Prophet Mohammed's sayings), Mohammed married Aisha when she was only seven-years-old and he consummated his union when she was nine," wrote Sheikh Mohamed Ben Abderrahman Al-Maghraoui on his website (Maghrawi.net).
"I am a confirmed theologian and I have not made this up. It is the prophet who said it before me," said the Marrakesh-based founder of a religious association.
"Those who criticise me, like the press or Moroccan television as well as the lawyer who filed the complaint (against me), are part of a secular attack against the Islamic nation and its theologians," he added.
Earlier this month, Rabat-based lawyer Mourad Bekkouri filed a complaint against Sheikh Maghraoui and his fatwa, which he said damages children's human rights, and the family and criminal code by increasing the risk of rape.
He said the theologian is undermining Islam and its followers and that he had requested the state prosecutor to speed up the case.
His views were backed by the left-wing newspaper Al Ittihad Al Ichtiraki, which claimed that "vicious theologians are today capable of putting religion in the service of paedophilia."
The views of Maghraoui, which contradict the teachings of mainstream Islam and the interpretation of the life Prophet Mohammed, has sparked anger and criticism among pious Muslims, who accused him of deliberately attempting to distort Islam.