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Interfaith marriage for Lebanese is 150 miles away!

October 14, 2009 2 comments

In Mideast, marriage too can be a battlefield

From The Associated Press

In the Middle East, civil marriage doesn’t exist and no religious authority will perform an interfaith wedding. Lebanon and Israel are different in that they recognize civil marriages as long as they’re performed abroad, and the closest venue abroad is Cyprus, 150 miles from Lebanon and 230 miles from Israel.

So this little island, which claims to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, has made mixed marriages something of an industry. Its municipalities charge around $415 for express processing and $190 for others, while travel agencies in both Lebanon and Israel offer packages including travel, luxury hotel, marriage fees and flowers for the bride.

Last year, by Cyprus government count, 523 couples from Lebanon and 1,533 from Israel were married here.

Wakim, 39, and Ghamloush, 33, met at work, fell in love and decided to marry. Their problem was, he’s a Maronite Christian, she’s a Baha’i. So Cyprus was their best bet.

Their wedding at City Hall in Nicosia, the capital, was quick and unadorned. A photocopier next to the Wedding Room whirred and creaked as municipal workers handled paperwork. The groom slipped outside for a quick smoke in the parking lot.

Then the marriage officer arrived, recited his lines in English, and the couple exchanged vows. It was over in 10 minutes.

They snapped a few photos of themselves on the steps of City Hall, then hurried off to finish the paperwork. They were catching a 40-minute flight back to Beirut that evening.

Click on the link above to read the whole article.

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