Prison, fines for chaotic wedding celebrations

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Manama: Police in the northern region of Hail in Saudi Arabia warned wedding revelers against blocking roads, disturbing traffic or firing in the air.

The warning was issued as several people have complained against chaotic driving, traffic disturbances, dangerous stunts and road blocks by relatives and friends when celebrating wedding with great fanfare on the roads and highways.

The police said that violators would be held legally accountable and that they would face jail terms, the confiscation of vehicles and fines of up to 20,000 Saudi Riyals, Saudi news site Al Marsad reported on Wednesday.

Social media users welcomed the decision as necessary to rein in chaotic driving by people “obstinately determined to turn family celebrations into public festivals.”

“We have to put an end to this chaos and we should not allow such public processions,” Al Hirfai, a media user, posted. “Weddings should be celebrated within the confines of the family without the high risk of bullets being fired in the air or staging expensive, dangerous and obstructive processions.”

Abu Ranim insisted that celebrations should be limited to one area.

“They are a real nuisance and they should not be allowed to cause traffic disruptions,” he said. “Celebrate as much as you want in a private place without bothering other people or imposing yourself on them.”

Those who opposed the decision said the authorities should consider the social dimension and significance of the event.

“Marriages processions are traditions that are particularly valued by tribes,” one commenter posted. “There may be cases when there are traffic obstructions, but it is never a security-related issue. It is an open expression of jubilation and of the extent of relations between the tribes.”

For Ahmad Al Ghamdi, the street procession is a deep-rooted tradition that should be celebrated.

“We refuse any attempt to do away with old beautiful traditions,” he said. “We should not deny people the chance to celebrate social events and their happiness with fanfare.”