You may or may not know this but the Iraqi government's latest attempt to reconcile disparate factions involves a little matchmaking. According to The Washington Times (and many, many other sources), Nouri al-Maliki's government is paying $2000 to couples willing to cross sect lines and marry someone from the other major branch of Islam. In some countries, it's quite irregular for Shiites and Sunnis to wed. In more secular nations, like pre-invasion Iraq, it was fairly common. Read: Married Soldiers Now Allowed To Live Together In Iraq
Per reports, 1,700 couples in the war-torn nation have taken the two g's and a chance with a spouse from the other Muslim house. Authorities have conducted 15 mass (definitely not Mass) weddings pairing Sunni and Shiite. Read: Baghdad Dating Game Adapts To War
Since the invasion—after the deposition of Saddam Hussein rather—marriage, in particular, and romance, in general, have been on the wane. As with most clannish cultures, ranks have a way of closing when times get tough. Since the fall of Baghdad and the subsequent mayhem, weddings had been way down in Mesopotamia. The AP says that marriages were up by nearly a third from 2007 to 2008 and early numbers from 2009 indicate that the growth trend will continue.
It should be noted that a large part of the upswing in romance coincides with the regression of street violence (this is a case in which correlation can safely be confused with causation). But large-scale bloodshed continues, so a secondary rationale must exist.
The New York Times says that there is a major effort underway on the part of Shiite leaders, both clerical and secular, to reconcile with their Sunni brethren and not respond to the recent uptick in racial violence.
Logically, the plan seems like it couldn't possible fail. But success hinges on one major supposition: that Thomas Friedman's thesis regarding the need to love one's family more than hate one's enemy comes to fruition. It's not too hard to imagine that it would likely be easy for someone who may kill his sister for betraying his honor to have no qualms about hurting his sister's new family who happens to back the wrong inheritor of Mohammed's legacy. Someone probably should have thought of this 1400 years ago. Oh well.
The power of love may save world after all… let's hope anyways.