A role reversal comedy shown on Saudi television in which a woman marries four husbands has hit the very nerve it satirized — male pride and double standards.
By Richard Spencer www.Telegraph.co.uk
The comedy was an episode in Saudi Arabia’s most celebrated satirical series, Tash Ma Tash or No Big Deal, a take-off of social prejudices shown annually during the holy month of Ramadan.
The central character takes four husbands, explaining herself using the conventional arguments Saudi men use to exercise their legal and religious privilege of marrying four times.
When she remarries for the first time she complains that her existing husband has stopped caring about his looks after five years, and is preoccupied with work.
The next marriage is for a dare with friends, and the fourth marriage, to a Syrian, she explains by saying that she is now bored with Saudi men.
Then she decides she wants to marry for a fifth time, making the four husbands draw lots to see who will be divorced and plunging them into a morass of jealousy.
Conservative imams, currently on the defensive as King Abdullah attempts to modernize some social attitudes in the country, have been predictably hostile, while men on Internet bulletin boards have attacked the series as promoting prostitution.
“What this does is hurt us,” said one imam, Sheikh Saad Al-Buraik. “In the name of comedy, they make fun of our religion and beliefs.” There are regular calls to ban Tash Ma Tash, but it is said to be one of King Abdullah’s favorite programs. Last week, an episode also provoked controversy, portraying two men who visit the brother of their dead mother, a foreign-born Arab, only to discover he is a Christian priest.
The shock lies in discovering that despite his religion, they come to respect him for his honesty and generosity.