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Islamist Militants Restrict Somali Wedding Celebrations


In a typical Somali wedding, women wear brightly colored gowns, gold jewelry and elaborate hairstyles. They dance with men to the tunes of Somali love songs, performed by a vocalist and a pianist.

But in recent months, traditional wedding celebrations have been banned. Islamist groups have seized control in several parts of Somalia and say the restrictions are in line with the teachings of Islam.

Music and dancing are no longer allowed. The groups say Islam forbids the mingling of women and men.

Convoys carrying family and friends of the couple have also been banned, [which the authorities blame for creating traffic jams]. The Islamists allow only three cars at a wedding and check to make sure the vehicles are carrying only the immediate families of the couple.

Islamist militant groups are adamant about imposing Islamic Sharia law in Somalia and banning any form of entertainment they deem to be un-Islamic.

No dancing, no music

Hussein Yusuf Anabore a long time wedding planner remembers how weddings used to be elaborate.

“After the bride has been picked up convoys of cars blaring Somali music would escort her to the wedding venue. Extended family members and participants would clap and cheer, with everyone dancing and mingling. These days, people just conduct prayer services, and dancing is not permitted," Anabore laments.

Some of the areas’ bachelors favor the restrictions. They say the changes will completely eliminate unnecessary expenses. Even the women admit the restrictions favor the men.

For those residing in the cities of Marka and Kismayo, where hard-line Islamist groups are in control, the change is hard to embrace. Many are disheartened, especially over no longer being allowed to film the weddings. They say they intend to be married only once, and the rules deprive them of being able to record a memorable moment in their lives.

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