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This interfaith Lebanese wedding has caused quite a stir Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

This interfaith Lebanese wedding has caused quite a stir

Fawaz and Katoura's religious unions received a mixed reaction on social media [Facebook]

Date of publication: 15 August, 2017

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Images of the church wedding involving a hijab-wearing Muslim woman to a Christian man in southern Lebanon has sparked controversy in the multi-religious Middle East state.
A church wedding between a hijab-wearing Muslim woman and a Christian man in southern Lebanon sparked controversy this week.

Images Marwa Fawaz and Botrous Katoura went viral last week, but the newlyweds also came under attack for choosing to marry in a religious ceremony deemed unacceptable by the state, as well as some Muslim traditionalists.

According to marriage laws in Lebanon - where some 18 religious communities exist - unions between people of different faiths are not recognised. Interfaith couples must choose to convert to one religion or the other in order to marry in a religious ceremony.

The state does not offer civil marriages so interfaith couples have often travelled abroad to perform civil ceremonies that are then recognised in Lebanon.

Fawaz - a Muslim - and Katoura - a Christian - chose to buck the trend in the southern Lebanese town of Tibnine.

The couple fell in love seven years ago and decided to have both Islamic and Christian ceremonies to allow each to keep their own religion, according to Lebanese daily Annahar.

The church ceremony was led by Father Basillios Nasr, who told Annahar that the marriage will be good for the country.

"Our goal is to unite people rather than divide them, and to build a society based on understanding and love," said Nasr.

Fawaz and Katoura first held a Muslim wedding ceremony ahead of the church wedding, according to the newspaper.

Fawaz and Katoura first held a Muslim wedding ceremony  [Facebook]

The ceremony was carried out based on a ruling that allows Muslims to marry "People of the Book", which refers to Jews and Christians.

Previously the main traditional Muslim schools of religious law generally held that a female Muslim is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim male.

A Muslim man is, however, allowed to marry women belonging to the Abrahamic faiths or "the Peoples of the Book".

In performing the ceremony for Fawaz and Katoura, the Muslim cleric made an emphatic ruling vocalised increasingly over recent decades by different scholars - especially in North America - that state Muslim women were never prohibited from marrying outside their faith.

However, to be able to register their marriage officially in Lebanon the couple had to carry out a civil wedding abroad.

Photos of Fawaz and Katoura's religious unions last week received a mixed reaction on social media

Our goal is to unite people rather than divide them, and to build a society based on understanding and love.
- Father Basillios Nasr


Some voiced their outrage at the move, dismissing both religious ceremonies as illegitimate.


"In Lebanon, a woman wearing the hijab marries a Christian man in a church," one Twitter user said, sharing the image of the church wedding.

"But how?!" another user responded.

"Which religion was the basis of this unity? The marriage contract is annulled as it is not permissible in either religions!" a Facebook user said.

"She has betrayed her religion, which is not just about wearing a hijab! He too has betrayed his religion as this marriage is illegitimate. The clerics have also betrayed their religions by agreeing to marry them!" a user tweeted.

Some, however, hailed the couple for portraying an image of coexistence.

"It is beautiful and should not be shameful in civilised countries. Interfaith marriages are more and more common now, and couples live happily. The couples should be hailed for their courage and the strength of their love!" a Facebook user said.

"First of all congratulations to the newlyweds. All the negative comments by those who are backwards must stop! This young couple has the chance to break free from our rotten society by offering this model of love, which must be celebrated," another Facebook user said.

"Many congratulations to the couple! I pray that their lives are filled with pure love and happiness just like their hearts," one Facebook user said.

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