In shell-shocked Yemen, the wedding party goes on

Wed Oct 5, 2011 1:54pm EDT
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By Erika Solomon

SANAA (Reuters) - Even as Yemen's crumbling capital shudders from machinegun fire, cars line up, covered in lace and blinking lights as if for some fairytale gala.

It is high season for weddings in Yemen.

Along this ramshackle, dusty stretch of bridal shops, brothers and uncles puffed with pride decorate wedding cars and brides are ushered into beauty salons. They share a note of unexpected optimism in Sanaa, where more than 100 have been killed in one of the bloodiest episodes of an eight-month revolt against the president.

The country seems to become more fractured by the day.

"Well, yes, the situation is bad. But so what? We've booked the hall, the musician. Stop the wedding? No -- it has to be done," says Abdelwahab al-Mansour, decorating his white SUV with red roses and glitter before escorting his niece to her wedding in style.

Tens of thousands of protesters have struggled unsuccessfully to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh from his 33-year rule and have now sparked a bloody, on-off battle between his loyalist forces and troops backing the opposition.

That all seems a world away to the short, bearded Mansour. The 50-year-old is dressed impeccably in traditional tribal attire -- a starched white robe, his ornate half-moon-shaped Jambiya dagger tucked into a green patterned sash.

Mansour puts the finishing touches on his car when more rat-a-tat of gunfire bursts out. Mansour and some friends stand calmly and watch with amusement. "It's no big deal, relax," they laugh.   Continued...

<p>A wedding car, decorated with muslin and flowers, is seen parked on a street in Sanaa, September 26, 2011. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah</p>