Anchor Katy Clark speaks with Muslim American comic Maysoon Zayid about the story of an Arab ambassador who divorced his wife because he didn't know until the wedding that she had a beard and was cross-eyed.
KATY CLARK: We decided to wait until after Valentine's Day to tell you this next story. It's very unromantic. It seems an Arab ambassador was ready to tie the knot when he lifted the veil from his bride's face to kiss her. Oops, the bride had a beard. Mr. Ambassador demanded that the marriage be annulled and that the $136,000.00 that he spent on gifts be returned. Palestinian actress Maysoon Zayid co-founded the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival. She told us from San Francisco that the story of the bearded bride surprised her.
MAYSOON ZAYID: Anyone who knows Arab women knows that we take care of that facial hair. It may have to be done every morning and every evening at 5:00, but we're good about having perfect eyebrows and no mustache. So my first shock is that an Arab woman on her wedding day wouldn't have taken the extreme measures it takes to have a silky smooth face.
CLARK: So are you questioning the story as it has been reported?
ZAYID: I'm questioning her gender. I am. I know Arab women and we really take care of ourselves. Veil or no veil. But my second thought is this, I don't think the Ambassador had the right to divorce her. I think he should have been forced to stay married - -for all time and eternity.
ZAYID: Because if you are an oppressive Arab male who believes that your interpretation of what is said about women covering themselves means putting a potato sack completely over a woman's head so you are unable to see her, then you should have to marry whatever you get.
CLARK: But it's kind of a business deal in this case too. He was sort of signing a contract and he didn't get what he was being promised.
ZAYID: No it's not a business deal. This is a different type of business deal. This is a business deal with God. When you get married in Islam, it's a contract with God. So like I said, I think that this was God getting this man back for being an oppressive male. Being like see, this is not what I meant, but since you pushed it to this extreme, I'm going to get you back. This is what you get for forcing this on women. My only happy ending to this story is the fact that he didn't get the money back. She got to keep all the gifts. She doesn't have to live with the jerk, she still gets to wear a veil and not have the pain of daily waxing and she got $136,000.00 in gold.
CLARK: Yeah which was, what is that, kind of like a dowry or something?
ZAYID: Basically it's a, instead of here in America, a guy gets down on his knee and gives you a $20,000.00 ring; there they just give you a bunch of gold. Instead of one piece, it's a lot of pieces.
CLARK: Okay. So arranged marriages, as far as you're concerned, are okay as long as everybody knows what they're getting.
ZAYID: Yes. I am completely pro-arranged marriages with full disclosure. Full disclosure.
CLARK: Maysoon Zayid is a Palestinian comedian and activist. She spoke with us from San Francisco.