Egypt's el-Sissi says he is alarmed by high divorce rates

Egypt's president says he is alarmed by his country's high divorce rates and is suggesting ground-breaking legislation to ban Muslim husbands from verbally declaring their spouses divorced.

In a televised address, President Abdel-Fatteh el-Sissi said Tuesday he has recently learned that 40 percent of Egypt's 900,000 annual marriages end in divorce after five years.

He suggested that legislation should be adopted so a divorce would be legal only if it is done in the presence of a "maazoun," a cleric authorized by the government to administer marriage and divorce.

Some couples already do that, but many husbands also divorce verbally — often in the heat of an argument — before later documenting the divorce.

"They should go to the maazoun, so it's not just a word casually uttered," said el-Sissi.