Latin America

Two ex-Guantánamo inmates taken in by Uruguay to wed girlfriends

Three of the former detainees released by the US already have partners in their new country

Two of the former Guantánamo detainees in Montevideo.
Two of the former Guantánamo detainees in Montevideo.Ines Guimaraens / AP

The brides’ names are Fátima and Samira and both are Uruguayan. On Saturday June 6, they will join hands in a double ceremony with two former Guantánamo detention camp inmates who were taken in by Uruguay just six months ago.

The grooms are Abd al Hadi Omar Mahmoud Faraj, a 40-year-old Syrian, and Abdul Bin Mohammed Bin Abess Ourgy, a 50-year-old Tunisian.

The marriages will take place at the Egyptian Embassy in Montevideo, which also functions as a mosque

Little is known about the brides, but according to the local press, Fátima lived abroad until recently and comes from a Muslim family, while Samira converted to Islam about four months ago.

The marriage ceremonies will take place at the Egyptian Embassy in Montevideo, which also functions as a mosque.

In March 2014, then-President José Mujica announced that Uruguay would take in five low-risk inmates released by US military officials from the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba where they had been held for 13 years as terrorism suspects without any charges ever being filed against them. Six eventually migrated in December.

But Mujica’s gesture has been overshadowed by the complaints in the press from the former inmates concerning their living conditions in Uruguay, and the small amount of money they were receiving from a UN-affiliated agency.

Complaints by the six former inmates about their living conditions have overshadowed Mujica’s gesture

Five of the six recently ended a protest at the US Embassy in Montevideo where they were camped out for weeks to demand that Washington compensate them for holding them illegally at Guantánamo.

The six recently received raises to their monthly allowance, along with extra help to enable them to rent their own apartments. In the coming days, they will leave the home where they have all been living together, which was provided by the Pit-CNT union.

Some Uruguayans had criticized the former inmates for refusing job offers presented to them and making threats to leave the country.

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But next week’s weddings sparked some hope that the former inmates may be ready to settle in their new environment.

Another one in the group, 35-year old Mohammed Tahamatan from Palestine, also has a Uruguayan girlfriend with whom he plans to start living later next week.

The inmates are still not fluent in Spanish and are receiving medical treatment for various conditions, but are slowly beginning to integrate into the South American country’s tiny Muslim community, which numbers about 300, according to Susan Mangana, a teacher of Arabic studies at Uruguay’s Catholic University.

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