First Civil Marriage Registered in Lebanon

mixed loveSo this week all Middle Eastern-freaks like me noticed that the first couple ever were able to register their marriage as a civil marriage in Lebanon – something that mixed couples have been advocating for ages. Cyprus have been the choice for many mixed Lebanese couples if they had the money – otherwise one of them had to resign to marry under their partner’s religion (usually the man’s).

I meet people that says “it’s not possible” about interfaith marriages. Why? Some religions don’t accept it; sometimes the two religions clash when it comes to the childrens’ religion (in Judaism the children inherits the mother’s reigion and in Islam the father’s – so what happens if a Jewish woman marries a Muslim man?); sometimes it’s simply the society and family that says “it’s not possible”.

Well I have come across so many mixed marriages that I can conclude one thing in this messy discussion: you can’t make people stay away from each other. As often as societies puts up rules for love, there’s always someone that will break them.

A Swedish-Lebanese family that I know were so determined to stay together that they married in the midst of the civil war, despite the danger of being a mixed Christan-Muslim couple. During the first years of their small children’s lives they were living in hiding from militias, until finally being able to escape to Sweden. They now have three children that has been raised celebrating Christmas and Ramadan, learning about both religions, and they take pride in their mixed background. Sometimes maybe a mixed marriage is the best way of preventing a civil war? Unfortunately Lebanon is still a place where such an effort is extremely difficult to carry out.

So when the news about the registered marriage broke, I hurried to get online. What kind of groundbreaking couple was it that decided to make a point out of not register in one religion? Maybe a Muslim-Christian couple? If not, could it be Druze-Christian? No, it was a Sunni-Shia couple – two branches within one religion. Not accepted by everyone, but not the major breakthrough that I had hoped for. If it was, I’m not sure that they would have been able to have the marriage registered.

But let’s hope it’s a first step for Lebanon to heal from it’s intolerant past and the horrifying events that took place under the excuse of sectarian divisions. If Lebanon really wants to move on, there’s only one way, the way forward.

Photo credit: www.biculturalmom.com

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I Love My Country

IMG_0004I love my country and am proud when telling someone I’m from Sweden. I’m aware of the negative aspects some people would hand to you (the weather is depressing, it’s hard to make Swedish friends, there are stupid rules for everything, even alcohol is only available in state-owned shops with limited opening hours) and I will agree with some of these things – but if I hear someone critizice Sweden too much I get sad. Why? Because it’s my country!

In an ideal world everyone would love their country and be proud when telling someone where they are from. I once met a guy in a party who asked me to go on a date with him, that said he was from “close to the Iranian border”, when he really was from Afghanistan (I have a tendency to ask people around one million questions when I meet them, so he couldn’t hide this fact for too long). This I find a bit sad, since he obviously didn’t think he’d have a chance with a white girl if he said where he really was from. In an ideal world people wouldn’t be ashamed of being American because many people dislike George W Bush; Germany because it started the Second World War; an underdeveloped country because it’s an underdeveloped country. I believe that change must come from both the outside as from within, why I want to challenge everyone to say that they love their country and give at least three reasons why. No country can be so bad that you cannot give at least three reasons to love it, right? Here’s why I love Sweden:

I love that there are bike paths everywhere

I love that if you see a homeless cat or dog you call the police and they will come and take it to a shelter

I love that people are honest to the point where it hurts, but at least you won’t get fooled (“If I want to hang out with you this weekend? No, I don’t think we have much in common”)

Which ones are yours?

Photo: Copyright Sweden and the Middle East Blog