Modern Romance: Skype Marriages in Syria
October 19, 2016In spite of the war, many Syrian newlyweds are still able to share that love-struck gaze of nuptial bliss. However, increasingly often, the intimacy of the moment is hampered by sketchy internet connections and pixelated images, as the couple is separated by a screen and hundreds, or even thousands, of miles.
The phenomenon of remote marriages has become commonplace among Syrian couples, with Damascus’ top shari’a judge, Mahmoud al-Ma’rawi, estimating that weddings conducted via social media now account for 50 percent of all marriages his courts officiate. Indeed, these ceremonies have become so popular that they are known colloquially as zawaj Skype, or “Skype marriages.”
The limited availability of eligible bachelors in Syria is the primary cause of the rise of Skype marriages. Millions of young men have fled abroad to avoid violence and conscription while many others have joined regime or rebel forces. With many young people unable to join their fiancés because of fighting or the costs of travel, they are having to abandon long-held fantasies of their dream wedding and accept a more practical ceremony via Skype.
Couples married remotely often cite their families’ initial resistance to a practice that represents a sharp departure from tradition. Most often, however, the parents eventually concede that the reality of war necessitates such innovation. Skype marriages often carry the added benefit of fast-tracking a visa process for the newlyweds still in Syria, as certain host countries allow refugees’ spouses to reunite with them. For some then, a Skype marriage could be a ticket out of Syria.
This piece is a part of Mezze, a monthly short article series spotlighting societal trends across the region. It originally appeared in the Middle East Program's monthly newsletter, Middle East Notes and Comment. For more information and to receive our mailings, please contact the Middle East Program.