It seemed almost like a movie in the making; the story of
a princess who gave up a lifestyle of royalty for a man
she fell in love with. Indeed the seemingly real-life
fairy tale of Princess Meriam Al-Khalifa's marriage to a
U.S. marine spawned international media coverage, an
appearance on America's highest rated television talk show
"Oprah" and a battle between Hollywood's giants for the
rights to tell their story.
The American network NBC triumphed, making the recent
television film, "The Princess and the Marine" as part of its
bid to win the February television rating war.
promoted film told the story of how this Bahraini princess
fell in love with U.S. Marine Jason Johnson after meeting him
at a shopping mall. It told how she continued to see him,
despite her parents' wishes and how the two fled the country
with the princess disguised as a U.S. Marine. And just like
the true-life story, the movie demonstrated that the couple's
troubles began shortly after their arrival on U.S. soil.
officials in Chicago detained the princess and attempted to
send her home, but after pleading for political asylum, Meriam
was allowed to stay pending the outcome of an immigration
eloped in a small Las Vegas ceremony and the two moved in with
Jason's open-armed parents. Johnson was demoted in rank for
his part in helping the princess leave Bahrain.
Now in real
life, the Princess and the Marine, with the assistance of a
Los Angeles agent and an attorney, have taken their case to
the public. Their hope is that they will garner enough
political pressure to force an immigration judge to rule on
this tale of a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, as their agent
revealed in a recent interview, will be told again and again,
ad nauseam, through a book deal and on a lecture tour, making
one wonder if Princess Meriam Barbie dolls aren't far behind.
regardless of how many times this story is told, the true
victims in this media blitz are America's Muslim community.
It has thus
far served in the best interest of the Bahraini princess, her
new husband and everyone associated with them to depict Islam
in the most negative light possible. The couple's attorney has
already paraded out Jean Sasson, author of a series of
nonfiction bestsellers, which depicts the "absolute male
authority" of Saudi Arabia. This self-described expert on
Muslim women has capitalized on the Western fascination with
real and/or imagined sex slaves and harems in the Muslim
Middle East. Sasson has already made a public appearance with
the couple and has vowed to testify in Meriam's behalf in an
upcoming immigration hearing.
And each time
the story has been told, it has both direct and indirect false
messages that Islam is a religion in which women are
But in all
the press coverage and television appearances, few have truly
focused on some troubling questions about the couple's story.
For example, no one has focused on the fact that Princess
Meriam began "dating" the marine at the young age of 17, an
act considered to be illegal even in some U.S. states. And no
attention has been given to the GI's insensitivity to the
country's religious and cultural mores and his lack of respect
to Meriam's parents whom he knew did not approve of their
relationship. Instead, Islam, and the nation of Bahrain are
subjected to Western value judgments. This was no more
apparent then during the Princess' appearance on the Oprah
show, when the daytime diva of talk gave her audience yet
another dose of self-righteousness by proclaiming, "Isn't
America the best place for girls?"
Oprah and others have failed to note is that the United States
is not necessarily the best place for teen-aged girls. It is a
country plagued with teen pregnancy, sexual diseases, eating
disorders, suicides and drug and alcohol addictions. If only
someone diverted Oprah to this
Report done by CNN earlier last year. The report starts by
an appalling statistical revelation, which states that: "More
than once a minute, 78 times an hour, 1,871 times a day, girls
and women in America are raped.."
that true story doesn't bring in high television ratings, and
it doesn't sell millions of books.
When I decided to incorporate this article into my website a
year ago, I wished I had some sources who could keep track of
the developments on this drama ( I prefer to call it this
way). Those marriages are seldom seen to succeed, that have
all the ingredients of media gossip and seem to be fairy tales
straight out of M&B. When a visitor to my website (Thanks
provided me with this update, I wasn't surprised, though Sorry
for the people who suffered in this whole episode, especially
the young princess's parents.
2001, 02:10 PM
SAN FRANCISCO (Agencies)
- A Bahraini
princess, whose elopement with a US Marine in 1999 once caused
tension between the US and Bahrain, is heading home because of
a marriage gone sour and family fears about her safety, the
Los Angeles Times reported on September 29.
Meriam Al Khalifa Johnson, who swept out of Bahrain hiding
under a baseball cap and flashing fake Marine identification,
flew to Washington on Thursday to catch a flight back home to
the Middle East, the newspaper said. The couple inspired a
television movie, "Romeo and Juliet set against Desert Storm,"
and a foreign-relations tempest when the Bahraini government
asked the United States to send the princess back.
The newspaper reported that Al Khalifa Johnson told her
husband, Jason Johnson, to get a job, while the ex-Marine,
reduced in rank for forging a fake identification for Meriam,
wanted to attend college.
on rocks, Bahraini princess who fled to wed Marine goes home - The Seattle
And Finally (update) :
Wednesday, December 1, 2004:
falls on Romeo-Juliet tale: Ex-Marine and Bahraini princess file for
The Associated Press
And is the case most of the times, in the
western press reports, the blue eyed Romeo isn't to be blamed at all. He
loved her with all his heart but she wasn't worthy of it. CBS News
reports: "Johnson said Meriam Al-Khalifa plunged into Las Vegas nightlife,
partying with her friends and ignoring him." There are also charges by
Romeo that Juliets family (Al-Khalifa's family) had paid $500,000 to
assassinate his wife and those kind of tensions had led to the destruction
of his family life.
Didn't we hear the same stuff from this
press which never held Jemima responsible for an iota of wrongdoings when
Imran Khan divorced her? So much for integrity of journalism and unbiased
When I first published this column on my
website around 3 years ago, I wasn't too sure whether this episode will
reach this culmination so soon, but surely, it isn't a big surprise
either. I just hope and pray, the princess comes out to be a lot more
mature and wise after going through the blunder she did and humiliation
and heartaches she brought for everyone within her family and community
for a mirage that was not destined to last.