“I got married secretly in a mosque,” says Elisabeth Elhazza. Her words are the title of an article in Tara, a Swedish women’s magazine, which gives an account of Elisabeth’s marriage to “seven years younger Khairi Elhazza from Libya,” how he proposed, and how “Elisabeth said yes without hesitation and stepped into what was, for her, an unfamiliar and strange culture.”
“‘Now I am one hundred percent Libyan,’ she says.”
The delicate phrasing of “what was, for her, an unfamiliar and strange culture” in the first sentence of the article marks the fine line the writer attempts to tread between exoticization and political correctness. That attempt seems to break down by the third sentence with a volley of “à la” phrases, from a description of the clothes provided by Khairi’s family (“à la Jasmine of Aladdin”), to a description of her fairy tale wedding in Libya (“à la A Thousand and One Nights“).
The article proceeds to delve into details about gold bracelets, souks, henna, traditional Libyan clothes–shopping and family and hospitality and harem pants, as Elisabeth’s unhesitant decision to take a step into this strange culture is portrayed positively as adventurous spontaneity. “Life’s too short to wait and hesitate!” Elisabeth, described as bubbly, says. As she put it, “I married Khairi, and that I got this culture into the bargain is incredibly exciting.” What a bargain! How fun!
She describes how wearing traditional clothes made her feel “like family,” talks about the summer home they are building in Libya, and shares their plan to name their son Jacob, which works in both Arabic and Swedish. The article ends with editorial advice to live in the moment and realize “we are all people,” followed by some notes about Libya in officious travel guide mode.