Runaway Princess Bride's Family Relents

The family of a Bahraini princess who eloped with a U.S. Marine is willing to accept the teenager’s wish to remain in the United States.

The family is even willing to facilitate her stay there, the family’s spokesman and lawyer said Monday.

“The family is still eager for her return home but is willing to accept her stay in the United States if that’s her desire,” said Qays Hatim Zu‘bi of the princess, 19-year-old Meriam Al Khalifa.

“Their main concern is her health and happiness. They want assurances that she will be well looked after,” Zu‘bi told The Associated Press in an interview. “Should she require assistance, the family is willing to help her in every way,” he said.

Still, she could face deportation over charges she used false documents to enter the United States.

Family Hopes for ‘Smooth Resolution’

Al Khalifa met Jason Johnson last year at a mall in the Bahraini capital of Manama, where the 25-year-old Marine was assigned to a security unit. As his deployment was ending late last year on the Gulf island nation, he forged U.S. military documents used by Al Khalifa to fly to the United States. Immigration officials in Chicago discovered the ruse.

An immigration judge on July 17 ruled that she must face charges of illegally entering the United States.

Al Khalifa plans to apply for political asylum on the grounds that she faces persecution for marrying a non-Muslim if she returns to Bahrain, according to her attorney, Jan Joseph Bejar.

Al Khalifa and her husband, who married in Las Vegas, live on Camp Pendleton, a Marine base 40 miles north of San Diego, Calif.

“Her family is concerned about her and hope that everything will be resolved smoothly,” said Zu‘bi of the immigration charges.

Husband Non Grata

The family has been in touch with the princess on the telephone and by electronic mail. “In every e-mail and phone call, Meriam has been apologizing to her family,” said Zu‘bi of the princess.

Al Khalifa, who is one of four daughters, had spoken with her father, Sheik Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, a distant relative of Bahrain’s ruler Sheik Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. But asked if the family was willing to accept her non-Muslim husband, Zu‘bi said: “At present, he is not welcome.”

Bahrain’s royalty rarely marry outside the family circle. Islam forbids Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith.