Palestinian Authority Legalizes Online Dating 'for Marriage Purposes'

PHOTO: A Palestinian couple dance in the Orjuwan Lounge, June 24, 2010, in Ramallah, West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority's Supreme Fatwa Council legalized online dating Tuesday, with the caveat that adherents maintain "the required moral standards and Shariah's rules," as reported in The Jerusalem Post. The council stated that Internet dating had become "unavoidable," contradicting other Islamic scholars who shun using digital technology to initiate relationships.

While the legalization may open new dating channels for Muslim Palestinians, the council emphasized that the purpose of any interaction between two people should be marriage, adding, "the conversation should be restricted to achieving this goal. It should not transcend to private matters that could stir instincts and awaken desires."

Additionally, women are prohibited from sharing pictures and private details about themselves, and from meeting anyone without family members present, the edict said.

On LavaPlace.com, Palestinian profiles for women can already be found, but without the usual headshots or introductory statements found on other dating sites. Instead, only age, sex and location are given.

Still, not everyone will be rushing to the sites, said Omar Ayad, head of the sociology and social work department at Al Najah National University in the northern West Bank.

"Despite this fatwa, Palestinian customs and traditions will be maintained as families will stick to the traditions, even though the religion has officially authorized connection between sexes," Ayad told Gulf News.

Ayad also told Gulf News that two people connecting "for the purpose of eventual marriage" was too vague and could be interpreted differently, and that "connection can be controlled in the beginning but after a very short while, there will be no chance to control connection."

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