Friday 22 November 2019

Row over Miss Universe 'selfie'

Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, poses for photos after she painted on a wall in Miami's Wynwood area (AP)
Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, poses for photos after she painted on a wall in Miami's Wynwood area (AP)

A seemingly innocuous selfie taken at the Miss Universe beauty pageant in Miami has sparked criticism in Lebanon because it featured a smiling Miss Lebanon alongside Miss Israel.

The Israeli beauty queen, Doron Matalon, posted a picture of herself with colleagues from Japan, Slovakia and Lebanon on her Instagram account. The selfie has resulted in a formal Lebanese investigation into the scandal.

Lebanese tourism minister Michel Pharon told reporters that "if there was bad intentions" from Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, measures could be taken against her.

In her defence, Ms Greige claimed she was photo-bombed.

Ms Matalon said the joint photo was genuine and was saddened that Ms Greige was under fire at home.

"I hope for change and I hope for peace between us, and even just for three weeks, just between me and her," she told NBC News.

"We need to remember that we represent the country and the people, not the government and not the political issues."

Under fire from critics angered by her fraternising with the enemy, Ms Greige took to Facebook to defend herself.

"The truth behind the photo: Since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss Universe, I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel (that tried several times to have a photo with me)," she wrote.

"Suddenly Miss Israel jumped in, took a selfie, and put it on her social media."

In a statement, the Miss Universe Organisation said: "It is unfortunate to know a photo of four smiling women from different parts of the world, working together at an event, could be misconstrued as anything other than what it is: a celebration of universal friendship."

The competition will be held at the end of the month in Miami.

PA Media

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