Nael al-Barghouthi, the veteran Palestinian prisoner freed in the recent prisoner exchange deal, has married fellow ex-detainee Iman Nafi' in a ceremony held on Tuesday evening. At the head of a large procession, Mr al-Barghouthi made his way to the bride's family home in the village of Na'lin where the marriage ceremony took place. The joyous occasion was attended by both families and friends of the bride and groom, including a number of other freed prisoners. The formal proposal was made by ex-prisoner Walid Hudli on behalf of al-Barghouthi; the bride's family proudly announced their acceptance.
In a speech, Nael al-Barghouthi said, "As an ex-prisoner recently freed, my marriage to a freed female prisoner is a challenge and victory as well as a fulfilment of the spirit of faith and hope; it opens the lock that had closed the doors of life to us. Prison did not kill our determination, which is a breaker of the shackles imposed on prisoners; our wedding is an affirmation of freedom and the start of a journey of loyalty and tenderness between two people able to express their feelings and their union in renewed freedom."
He added that his marriage is the beginning of a family added to the families of the steadfast and generous Palestinian nation. "Our prayer to Allah is that He gives us joy and happiness in order to heal the wounds for as long as they bleed, and erase the long years of pain whose memory will never leave us and from which we will learn and draw lessons."
Mr al-Barghouthi said that he misses those who have already gone to Allah; his parents and the martyrs. "Similarly, those who are absent from my day of joy can't share with me the most beautiful moments of freedom; my brother whom I have not seen for the many long years that he has been held in so-called administrative detention, and his son; and friends of mine from among my people, particularly in Gaza and the Diaspora, that I have known and been linked to through memories and history – and who I had hoped would be with me so that my joy would be complete."
The bride was just as happy as her new husband. "I did not meet him before, but I knew of him from his positions, interviews and the stories of his heroism," she said. "Nael is a special type of human being who belongs to the school of true revolution, loyalty and sincerity. I know the smallest details of his life. As such, I was very impressed by this legendary personality and when he proposed, I agreed without hesitation as I saw sincere companionship in it."
Iman Nafi' also spoke about how she had been affected, including her sadness that her joy will be incomplete until all of the Palestinian prisoners are released, and all those who have been exiled are able to return to their homeland.
Nael al-Barghouthi was arrested at his family home in the village of Kubar on 4th April 1978 and sentenced to life imprisonment. The Israelis have refused consistently to release him, removing his name from all lists of prisoners put forward to be released or exchanged. This policy ended with the recent prisoner exchange deal struck between Hamas and Israel and he was released after spending 34 years behind bars.
Iman Nafi' comes from a family of refugees and was born in the village of Na'lin. She was arrested in 1987 and sentenced to 15½ years in prison on charges of involvement in a martyrdom operation. She was released following the signing of the Taba Agreement and was honoured by the martyred first President of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Ammar [Yasser Arafat]. She worked in the Youth and Sports Ministry before becoming Director of Information and Public Relations at the Prisoner's Club and devoting her life to the prisoners' cause. Most recently, she contributed to the establishment of an association to help freed female prisoners.