Marriage in Egypt Feb 23, 2008 15:53:59 GMT -5
Post by Bozur on Feb 23, 2008 15:53:59 GMT -5
In Egypt and across the Middle East, many young people are being forced to put off marriage, the gateway to independence, sexual activity and societal respect. Marriage plays an important financial role for families and the community. Often the only savings families acquire over a lifetime is the money for their children to marry, and handing it over amounts to an intergenerational transfer of wealth. Abeer Adel, 19, and her fiancé, Amgad Muhammad, 21, looked at engagement rings and other jewelry at a shop in Cairo. The two, who are cousins, said they planned to be engaged for four years.
Photo: Shawn Baldwin for The New York Times
At a mosque in Cairo, Amal Muhammad Hassan, 17, center, signs a marriage contract alongside her fiancé, Yasser Allam, 27, right, with the mazoun, an Islamic marriage official who acquires the signatures, registers documents and performs other tasks related to marriage.
Because officials are concerned about the destabilizing effect of young people being unable to afford marriage, the Egyptian government helps finance mass weddings. A government-aligned charity paid for dozens of couples to wed last fall in Idku, Egypt. Brides lined up to pick their wedding dresses.
"Marriage and forming a family in Arab Muslim countries is a must," said Azza Korayem, a sociologist with the National Center for Social and Criminal Studies. "Those who don't get married, whether they are men or women, become sort of isolated."
The mass weddings, like the one in Idku, are hugely festive, with couples, many in their late 30s and 40s, allowed to invite dozens of family members and friends.
At the Idku ceremony, the couples were ferried to an open-air stadium in 75 cars donated by local people. They were greeted by a standing-room-only, roaring crowd, flashing neon lights, traditional music, the local governor and a television celebrity who served as the master of ceremonies for the event.
Brides and grooms prior to a ceremony at the mass wedding in Idku.
Newlyweds celebrated their marriage as friends and relatives danced on a bridge over the Nile in Cairo.