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In dusty Turkish village, surfing the Web for brides

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"Everybody wants a Moroccan bride now," says Yildirim, who scouts out potential Moroccan wives on an Arabic chat website called habibti.com. ("Habibti" is the feminine version of "my dear" in Arabic.)

'I'm a pioneer'

The romance might wear off quickly in Gokce (pronounced "Gohk-che"), 2,700 miles from Morocco. Although Turkey's per capita income of $12,000 is three times that of Morocco, much of southeast Turkey is mired in deep poverty. In Gokce, surrounded by parched fields of stunted wheat, many homes are built from mud brick. Few roads are paved.

In the front courtyard at the home of Halit Oncel, the first villager to find a Moroccan bride online, sewage runs through a narrow open channel and chickens run freely. Because of modesty customs, none of the women in the house could be seen during the visit of a male guest. But Mr. Oncel says his second wife, Mona, from northern Morocco, is "happy" here. "A bride from Istanbul couldn't live here. But a bride from outside Meknes [a northern Moroccan city] can," says Oncel, a truck driver with a shy grin.

Oncel and Mona married a year ago, after a three-month online courtship. With 11 children in the house from his first wife, Oncel says he felt it was time to find another wife to help out with the housework.

After a failed trip to Syria to find a bride, Oncel came across Gokce's new Internet cafe.

"I saw some people were making friends online, and I thought I could do this to find a wife," he says, sitting on a rug in his spartan living room. Through habibti.com, Oncel says he met four potential candidates. When Mona agreed to marry him, he sent her money for a plane ticket to Turkey.

"I'm a pioneer, which makes me feel good. Others are following me," he says.

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