Who knew that such a low key and simple civil marriage would cause such a controversy? Well, in Lebanon where civil marriage is not acknowledged, Nidal Darwish knew what he was doing. When he and his bride Kholoud Sukkariyeh wed they wished to break from the traditional sectarian marriage. Nidal Darwish stated, “It is really a different feeling when you feel like a human being getting married to another human being based on human rights and not on sectarian rights.”
Michel Sleiman, President of Lebanon, tweeted about the incident. “We should work on legalizing civil marriage contracts, this would be a step forward to abolish sectarianism and enhance co-existence.” In turn, the Prime Minister Najib Mikati came out in opposition arguing that renewing the debate regarding civil marriages would be “futile” considering the political problems the country is facing.
The government is refusing to recognize the marriage of Darwish and Sukkariyeh, so it may be viewed as more symbolic. Nonetheless, it has started a debate and raised awareness about civil rights, not just sectarian rights. Sukkariyeh is hoping that her Lebanese civil marriage will be “a cornerstone for a non-sectarian Lebanon.”
Zak Brophy, “Marriage Made in Civil Heaven,” Inter Press Service, February 09, 2013. http://www.globalissues.org/news/2013/02/09/15828
Student Researcher: Fiona Mitsuoka, College of Marin
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman, College of Marin