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Former Guantánamo Prisoners Find Muslim Convert Brides in Uruguay

Two of Uruguay’s six former Guantánamo Bay prisoners are planning to wed in Uruguay on Saturday, June 6. The women, reportedly both converts to Islam, are Uruguayan natives and are believed to have met the men in February, three months after their arrival to the nation.

Argentine outlet Infobae reports that the grooms-to-be are Abd Hadi Omar Mahmoud Faraj of Syria and Abdul bin Mohamed of Tunisia, to be married to private citizens named Fátima and Samira, respectively. The women’s last names are not provided in any medium. They are set to be married in Montevideo’s only mosque, which is attached to the Egyptian embassy there. Infobae notes that a third member of the group of six, Mohammed Tahamatan, is also in a relationship with a woman and set to move out of the apartment the six men share, having signed a lease with the woman. No information appears to have been made public about his partner, other than that she is Uruguayan, as well.

El Observador, an Uruguayan national newspaper, provides more details: The couples met in February, and the families of the brides will attend the ceremony. Fátima’s family is Muslim, while only Samira’s mother has converted to the religion. Samira reportedly converted to Islam four months ago–a month before she met her fiancé. The four other former Guantánamo prisoners will attend and serve as witnesses to the men, whose families are still in their home countries.

Uruguay’s El Pais notes that little is known about Samira, but Fátima has been vocal about her Muslim faith and the need to embrace the former Guantánamo residents on the part of Montevideo’s tiny Muslim community, estimated to be at about 300 members. “Masha allah brothers and sisters, may Allah bless them,” Fátima wrote on Facebook of the six former prisoners in April. “I ask for something very special–we should pray for them because they are our brothers who were punished for something they did not do.” She continued, “It is not for us to judge and humiliate.”

El Pais describes Fátima’s family as including a mother and a son, who were “surprised” when they heard the news, but supportive. It also notes an interesting religious difference between bride and groom: Fátima is Shiite, while Faraj is Sunni. The difference does not appear to have affected the couple, however, likely due to the tiny size of Uruguay’s Muslim population.

The marriage is possible, reports Spain’s El Pais (no relation to the Uruguayan publication), thanks to the Uruguayan government increasing its stipends to the group, helping each of them move out of the apartment they share and integrate into Montevideo. The fund increase follows a difficult month of April in which the prisoners refused to sign a one-year deal that would pay their rents, demanding that the United States, and not Uruguay, pay for their subsistences.

It was one of a series of disagreements with the men that led Uruguay to refuse entry to any further freed Guantánamo Bay detainees. Disputes between the men in February led the government to separate them after neighbors complained that they were afraid, being awoken in the middle of the night by “political and religious” disputes in Arabic. They were eventually reunited, though most have also caused problems by not finding work and refusing to take Spanish language classes, making employment nearly impossible.

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