I’ll bet my bottom dollar I’m not the first to tell you about Lebanese beauty Rima Fakih’s ascension to the throne as the first American Muslim woman to be crowned Miss USA.
As I’m sure you know, Rima, 24 beat 50 other gorgeous finalists in the 2010 edition of the famous stars and stripes pageant held in Las Vegas. I’ve been reading about her victory in The Guardian. Born in Lebanon, she moved to the US as a child, relocating from New York to Michigan in 2003. Rima won Miss Michigan last year before sweeping to victory as the nation’s most beautiful woman.
Contesting, Contest and Contestants….
From one Muslim woman to another, it’s easy to sense how delicate a subject this could be: Miss USA involves swimsuits, evening gowns and interview segments where let’s face it: the emphasis is hardly on modesty.
Naturally, there have been some rumbles in the global Islamic community. While this Lebanese beauty’s victory is seen as a sorce of pride for many more liberal Muslims, its controversial for more conservative believers. The Guardian reports incidents of Islamic scholars issuing fatwas instructing women not to participate in such pageants.
Dearborn Shows its Support
Rima has received notable support in her hometown of Dearborn, Michigan, home to many a car manfacturer and a thriving Muslim population. The city is regarded as the capital of Muslim America because of its large Islamic community.
In an interview with the Detroit Free Press before the competition, Rima aired her own views on the subject: “I think the community in Dearborn might be a little on the strict side, but my family in general are not,” she said.
A Two-Sided Coin
Rima’s family originates from Srifra, in southern Lebanon and different branches of the family follow the Muslim and Christian faiths. After relocating from Lebanon, she was sent to a Catholic school in New York, and her immediate family in Dearborn celebrates Christmas.
Several Arab-American groups sponsored Rima in the early days of her pageant career, including the Michigan branch of the America-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Director Imad Hamad told the Detroit Free Press that he encountered opposition from some local Muslims who thought beauty contestants were “not something they wish to see”. But he added: “It took a great deal of passion, guts, courage and self-confidence to compete for a title like this.”
As Miss USA, Rima will be awarded a one-year lease on a New York apartment, living expenses, an undisclosed salary and other bolt on goodies.