For many poverty-stricken Palestinian families, the mass weddings mean marriage ceremonies can take place without the crippling expense of a mahr (dowry) or a private party, which can run to tens of thousands of dollars. Most of these grooms are sons or relatives of Palestinians killed in the violence over the past four and a half years.
Hamas, whose name means Islamic Resistance Movement, is clearly using the ceremonies to further promote its image as a positive institution in Palestinian society. Palestinians have long maintained that one of the main reasons for Hamas's soaring popularity, particularly in the Gaza Strip, is the fact that the movement continues to provide a vast network of social and economic services to the needy.
Hamas is not the only group to organize such events. Earlier this month, Islamic Jihad sponsored a similar ceremony in the Gaza Strip, but for "only" 222 Palestinian couples. Tens of thousands of people attended the mass wedding in Gaza City, which was financed by several Palestinian companies and institutions.
Khaled al-Bahtini, one of the organizers of the gathering, said each couple received a gift of $200 – $300 in cash, in addition to wedding rings and bedroom and other furniture.
Jul 29, 2005
Hamas sponsors mass wedding
452 couples united in holy matrimony.