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Egypt: Rima Fakih – What does religion have to do with it?

Date posted: May 26, 2010


 

Rima Fakih, an Arab Muslim immigrant, won the Miss USA Pageant. There are those who considered her award an Arab victory, those who considered her a Muslim disgrace, and others who dug up her past.

Playing with her name (Fakih means religious jurist in Arabic), Hassan El Helali called her

أجمل فقيه في الكون
The most beautiful fakih in the universe

He comments saying:

كده أنا ممكن أغير رأيي في الفقهاء
دانا يمكن كمان أوافق على موضوع ولاية الفقيه
بس يكون ريما، مش حد من الدجالين إياهم
If that's the case, I might change my opinion of religious jurists; I might even go as far as approving their sovereignty – only if Rima will be the official fakih not one of those impostors we have

Zeinobia wrote a post about Fakih saying

I do not know if this is the result of the Obama effect or Arizona law effect but due to the fact that in 2002 after the 9/11 incident we got Azra Akin as Miss Worldand Hammasa Kohistani as Miss England after the 7/7. Also we should remember former Miss California and Miss USA Carrie Prejean’scontroversy of last year. I am expecting a lot of controversy and media following Fakih and already TMZ has decided to give her a little bit of their royal treatment and comments in news and blogs are full of racist negative remarks about her origin and religion. “I can’t wait to see the reaction of Fox and Friends !!”

It does not surprise me that an Arab girl or even a Muslim girl participates in a beauty pageant contest , as any community and society we got different views and different faces like any society in this world. Of course I do not put much hope on a girl that depends on her external beauty and fabulous body to change a bloody stereotype about the Arab and Muslim community yet regardless of whether Rima Fakih is a silly shallow girl who dances on a pole and wishes for a world peace or not , this young girl has become another Arab American Muslim icon.

Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs shared pictures of Rima's stripping contest and commented

Here is an icon for the advent of modernizing the Muslim world. She embodies everything sharia and the Islamic world deplore — free women. Burn those burkas, baby, and come on in. The water is just fine.

Given some of the comments and emails I've been getting about this post, it seems necessary to explain that I do not think Miss USA is some kind of role model for American girls or for American culture. What I find positive about Rima Fakih is that she goes against everything Muslims want women to be — and with all the ways that Islam oppresses women, free will, free women, free people. what could be wrong with that?

Yusra of Muslimah Media Watch wrote: Haters Gonna Hate: the Backlash Against Miss USA

She beat out four blondes and set off a whirlwind of media coverage stemming from her “stripper” past to her Shi’a background.

On the positive side, one idealist commenter compared her to Barack Obama. Another went so far as to say her win shows the “real face of Arab Americans, not the stereotypes you hear about.” Ah, yes, not the burqa–the bikini! Trading one stereotype for another is not progressive, but whatever.

Many in Arab-American community, as well as many American Muslims,supported Fakih’s win. While some Muslims voiced their concern over the message it sends, ironically, it’s the American Christian right who’s angriest.

Conservative blogger Debbie Schlussel calls her Miss Hezbollah and says terrorists financed Fakih’s win. She spun this incredible story while calling Donald Trump a “dhimmi,” whining that Miss Oklahoma was unfairly set up by liberalswho don’t know what’s right for America.

Ahmed Rehab, the Executive Director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations in Chicago, asks a better question: why must a Muslim person’s faith come up the moment that person breaks through the mainstream in any conceivable way, regardless of relevance or context? Comedian Dean Obeidallah offers a sober explanation over at The Huffington Postsome on the far right love to hate us more than they love the ideals of this country.

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