Footage of a prominent Muslim cleric wedding a 14-year-old girl and 34-year-old man has sparked outrage online.
According to The Daily Mail, 62-year-old Imam Ibrahim Omerdic is accused of forcing a minor to enter marriage.
In the contentious video, released by 7 News, Omerdic asks the unidentified man, “do you take [girl’s name redacted] to be your wife to live together and live according to Islam?”
The footage – reportedly shot last year in the back room of a mosque in Australia – shows the girl’s mother sitting in the room as the ceremony takes place.
According to 7 News, the woman agreed to give her daughter up for marriage after receiving a $1,480 gold necklace from the groom.
The girl – who reportedly only met her groom days prior – shifts anxiously throughout the clip.
“It is deeply disturbing to think of little girls, pre-puberty, being considered for marriage and for people to be organizing that marriage,” said Australian Family & Community Services Minister Pru Goward to 7 News.
Disturbingly, the outlet reports, these types of marriages are far from uncommon in Australia.
Between December 30 2014 and January 31 2017, the Australian government reportedly received reports of 57 children being married off.
See 7 News’ full report below.
Sydney child brides forced into marriage. Video shows how widespread the exploitation is. Why are the authorities ignoring the problem? pic.twitter.com/h3Gc534PUP
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) May 22, 2017
Needless to say, that report, along with the footage, is not sitting well with many people online.
Here are a few comments on The Daily Mail’s article.
According to The Herald Sun, Imam Ibrahim Omerdic has admitted to conducting the marriage ceremony.
However, the outlet states, he intends to dispute “his intent to perform a marriage ceremony.”
“There is an issue of whether there was any solemnization of a marriage,” said Barrister David Gurvich QZ according to The Australian.
In the meantime, The Australian reports that Omerdic no longer works at the Noble Park Mosque and has had his marriage license revoked.