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Palestinian student couple's hug makes university blush

AFP , Monday 21 Mar 2016
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A demure public hug by a newlywed Palestinian student couple landed them in front of a university disciplinary board, accused of "breaching moral standards and tradition," the groom told AFP.

The couple, who do not want to be identified, went to court on Thursday to sign their marriage licence.

They were wedded in the eyes of the law but not in the view of some in Palestinian society where only a full-blown family ceremony counts and the court procedure is barely seen as anything more than a formalisation of engagement.

They went straight from court to their college, in a particularly conservative part of the West Bank, to share their joy with their fellow-students.

"We wanted to celebrate the occasion with our friends," the young man said.

"I put the ring on her and held her in my arms without any violation of morals," he added.

"But shortly afterwards I learned I had been summoned before the disciplinary board."

"I did everything that was required by custom and our two families before going to the university."

The story of the two young lovers, photographed by the crowd in an innocent gesture of affection which offended none of those who witnessed it, prompted a debate rare on such a subject in the West Bank and swamped social media with thousands of indignant posts.

"Society has taught us to be ashamed of love and hide it," said one.

The disciplinary body has yet to decide what steps to take but university sources said the board was looking for a solution which did not harm the couple's education and a university statement said there had "never been any question of expelling them."

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