Fallout from Miss Universe selfie bounces across world

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Backlash over Miss Universe contest: Students at cash-strapped FIU hit out over $550,000 costs to host beauty pageant.

A Miss Universe selfie that set off a Middle East controversy was nothing more than “a celebration of universal friendship,” pageant organizers said Monday. “I hope for change and I hope for peace between us even just for three weekends just between me and her,” Matalon said. “We need to remember that we represent the country and the people, not the government and the political issues and that’s it.” Organizers issued this statement: “With 88 women from around the world coming together for the Miss Universe pageant, new friendships are forged and we hope that these relationships can make inroads for change in the future. A selfie taken by a group of Miss Universe contestants isn’t normally something that makes international news, but a recent photo showing Miss Israel posing alongside a smiling Miss Lebanon has bucked the trend.Just appearing in a photo with Miss Israel — apparently unintentionally — was enough to land a Lebanese beauty queen at the centre of an international uproar.Miss Universe contestant Miss Israel Doron Matalon was just trying to be friendly when she snapped and shared a group selfie that included Miss Lebanon Saly Greige in Miami on Sunday, Jan. 11—but Lebanese TV station Al Jadeed didn’t see it that way.

The university, which announced the deal before signing a contract, has to pay over $540,000 to host the event – a fee inflated by $400,000 in arena roof work needed to accommodate cameras and lights. Social media users soon noticed that Lebanon’s Saly Greige was standing next to her, which led to some angy Lebanese folk calling for their country’s contestant to be stripped of her title for ‘consorting with the enemy’.

The newspaper quotes a memo from November 4 which notes a women’s softball and golf locker room building would likely be ‘scrapped’ as a result of the pageant. Lebanese Tourism Minister Michel Pharon told the Associated Press that “if there was bad intentions” from Miss Lebanon, measures could be taken against her. According to Lebanon’s Daily Star, the hashtag ‘two words for Miss Lebanon’ was trending on Twitter this weekend, as thousands of Lebanese people fumed against Greige for blatantly fraternising with Matalon.

FIU administrators insist the pageant will pay and believe the enhanced arena will make the university more competitive in securing concerts and events. Though the pair entered and left the building separately, the proud parents to Esmeralda, born this past Sept. 12, were clearly out for a rare date night, all gussied up to take in the stand-up’s show at the Saban Theatre.

While Gosling, 34, looked ever the dapper gent in a dark suit and white sneaks, his leading lady, 40, appeared slim (she only gave birth four months ago!) in a leopard-print shift dress topped by a printed coat. FIU professor Susanne Zwingel, an expert in women’s rights and gender-equality issues, wrote to the university’s president Mark Rosenberg expressing her disappointment. She said: ‘A university has a responsibility toward young men as well,’ Zwingel wrote. ‘It should help them unlearn the messages sent about women by society as a whole — that they are to be judged by their looks and that it is fine to treat them as objects for men’s fantasies.’ To ease tensions, the university has tried to distance itself from the pageant, by not calling itself a sponsor and removing its logo from the pageant website. As she’s rarely snapped with her beau, the actress explained to Ellen DeGeneres last month just why she and Gosling keep such a low profile. “We decided it’s going to be so hard for [Esmeralda] to have privacy,” Mendes said. “We thought [the secret pregnancy was] the first opportunity we can give her to protect her and so that I had a nice calm pregnancy, which I did.”

Despite this Rosenberg suggested those who watched the pageant abroad would be curious enough to visit the university’s website to learn more about it. Of course, it might be true, but that’s not the point – it seems incredibly sad that she has to try and explain why she’s smiling in an image with a fellow contestant. But as, The Telegraph’s Middle East correspondent Richard Spencer explains: “Although it’s childish of Lebanon, the problem isn’t that she posed with an Israeli person, but someone who represents the state of Israel as an entity.

It’s not quite as childish as everyone’s making out.” He believes it’s because Matalon is essentially an official ambassador of Israel on a global stage, albeit a glorified beauty contest, that there has been so much anger about the photograph, which points to the bigger picture of how relations stand between Israel and Lebanon. The Telegraph’s chief foreign correspondent David Blair explains that it’s because Israelis wouldn’t find the selfie particularly controversial: “In Israel people might think, well done Miss Israel, because it helps support the Israeli view which is that the fundamental cause of the conflict is the Arab world won’t accept them. George Asseily, chairman of the Centre for Lebanese Studies, says: “Lebanon has a problem with Israel and Israel couldn’t care less. “All they want is to grab more land around Israel.

In 2006 there was lots of destruction and since then there’s been no improvement in the relationship, because Israel still occupies part of the south and they’re refusing to withdraw although this is Lebanese territory.” Of course Israel would argue otherwise, and perhaps suggest that Lebanon is not the liberal country it wants to be seen as, even though it has provocative pop stars such as Haifa Wehbe, and a virbrant nightclub scene in Beirut where girls dress similarly to those in the West. Only recently, Lebanese porn star Mia Khalifa, 25, has been receiving horrific abuse and death threats from Muslims in her country, with people writing comments such as: “Ur head will be cut soon inshallah”.

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