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For those American women reluctant to wear an abaya (the all-encompassing black cloak) and for those Saudi husbands who did not make an issue of the abaya prior to arriving, the intense public scrutiny that starts at the airport—given to a western woman who is accompanying a Saudi male—is usually the catalyst for the eventual covering up.

Since the overwhelming majority of American citizen wives never travel to the Kingdom prior to their marriage, they are abruptly catapulted into Saudi society.

It's remarkable that, multiculturalism notwithstanding, such institutions as the U. government and the Vatican are warning women away from inter-religious marriages. 1, 2005 update: Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian Bishops Conference and a right-hand man to Pope Benedict XVI, issued a statement yesterday on behalf of the conference, warning against Catholics marrying Muslims.

"In addition to the problems that any couple encounters when forming a family, Catholics and Muslims have to reckon with the difficulties that inevitably arise from deep cultural differences." He also noted that it is usually a Catholic woman who marries a Muslim men, that usually she converts, not he, and their children tend to be brought up as Muslims.

Indeed, almost 6,000 such marriages were registered in Morocco in 2007 – about six times as many as a decade earlier and more than the number of Moroccan men who married foreign women that year (which was just over 4,300). 1, 2008 update: Asked about mixed marriages, Mariano Crociata, the new secretary-general of the Italian Bishops' Conference, replied that they are not encouraging, because with the passage of time there is often a return to [the spouses'] cultural, social, religious, and legal origins, with sometimes dramatic consequences, which the children pay for. 14, 2009 update: Another cardinal weighs in, this time the head of the Catholic Church in Portugal, Jose Policarpo.

He advised Christians to respect Muslims and to learn more about Islam.

There is the universal recollection of approaching Riyadh and witnessing the donning of the black abayas and face veils by the fashionably dressed Saudi women.

For many women, the Saudi airport is the first time they see their husband in Arab dress (i.e., the thobe and ghutra).

If there is ever a dispute between you and your Muslim husband, he only needs to travel to a Muslim country and Islamic law, which favor men, would apply. The Muslim's mind is ingrained with the teachings of the Koran and his Muslim culture which favor men.

AKI reports today that, in response to the growing number of Moroccan women who are marrying European men, Sheikh Mohammed al-Tawil of Fez, Morocco insisted in an interview with Al-Arabiya television that marriage between Moroccan women and non-Muslim European men is unacceptable.

"This kind of marriage, between Moroccan women and European men, is forbidden by the Koran and the Sunna.

the Saudi-American relationship virtually always blossoms in the States, in a climate that allows dating, cohabitation, children out of wedlock, religious diversity, and a multitude of other Islamic sins which go unnoticed by Saudi relatives and religious leaders thousands of miles away.

American citizen wives swear that the transformation in their Saudi husbands occurs during the transatlantic flight to the Kingdom.

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