Iraq: Mass Wedding Held for Shia Militia Fighters

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Iraq: Mass Wedding Held for Shia Militia Fighters
Fri 19-06-2015

A mass wedding has been held for Shia militia fighters who are supporting the Iraqi government's battle against Islamic State (IS) militants.

Iraq's youth and sports ministry organised the festivities for 250 couples in the capital, Baghdad, the privately-owned Shafaq News website reports. After a minute's silence to remember those killed while fighting IS, a banner was raised in the venue showing a fighter running towards his bride, accompanied by the slogan "towards happiness". The newlyweds are also in line for some wedding gifts - each couple will be given a television, bedroom furniture and a fridge, according to ministry official Akram Na'im. He says the bash was sponsored by several local and foreign companies, including Iraq's national airline.

The men are members of the Popular Mobilisation Units, an umbrella group for Shia militias fighting alongside Iraq's security forces. The grooms were decked out in their camouflage uniforms, a point of pride for several who spoke to Shafaq News. One groom describes getting married in his fatigues as "beautiful", because it emphasises his dedication to fighting IS.

The militias have played a key role in security operations against the radical Islamist group, most notably in the battle to recapture Tikrit in March. But they have also been accused of human rights abuses, which the militias deny.