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A Baghdad Romeo and Juliet

Just the other day we were talking about tit for tat violence in Romeo and Juliet.  Today, USNews.com in Friends, Family and Foes, in Iraq, Sunnis and Shiites Fight, But Sometimes They Marry, brings us a Shiite-Sunni wedding worthy of Friar Tuck's imaginings when he married the star-crossed lovers. 

 "In one respect I'll thy assistant be," he says of the upcoming secret nuptials, "for this alliance may so happy prove, to turn your households rancour to pure love." (Act 2, Scene 3). 

It's hard not to have one's hope slightly buoyed by this symbolic gesture.

"The bride," USNews.com reports,

is a university student from a storied Sunni tribe, the groom a technician at an Iraqi cellphone company and the son of a prominent Shiite tribal leader. It could almost be a Baghdad version of Romeo and Juliet but with a twist--the marriage was arranged by their parents, in part as a willful symbol of defiance against the sectarian violence that has riven Iraq.

The unlikely nuptials might appear to be a doomed gesture in a place where tension between Sunnis and Shiites seems to keep escalating with random killings and tit-for-tat retaliations. Shiite families have been chased out of suddenly unfriendly Sunni neighborhoods, and vice versa. The sectarian strife has been aggravated by growing confusion over the loyalty of Iraq's Shiite-dominated security forces and a months-long delay in forming a new government.

But the wedding also serves as a reminder of the complexity of the Iraqi mosaic, where Sunnis and Shiites have long been deeply interwoven. Not long ago, a Sunni-Shiite wedding would have been unremarkable. But in today's Baghdad, it is a brave and fraught venture. For these two families, it also means wrestling with the uncertain future of their troubled nation--and placing what amounts to a high-stakes bet that, in part because of events like this one, Iraq will not descend into a full-fledged civil war.

For the full account, click on the title of the article above.

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