The state’s failure to ratify the high-profile civil wedding calls into question its authority over traditional faith groups

In June this year a young Lebanese couple, Abdallah Salam and Marie-Joe Abi-Nassif, got married. They held their nuptials in the garden of a Beirut manor in front of a small Lebanese flag. Family and friends bore witness to their vows.

And that’s how the bride and groom wanted it: a wedding sanctioned by the state, not by religious authorities. Theirs was one of the few civil marriages attempted in Lebanon – where the simple act of getting married has long been a reflection of the country’s social and sectarian fault lines.

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