Miss-represented? Miss Lebanon to keep title despite selfie scandal

Published January 23rd, 2015 - 03:02 GMT

Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon rejected on Friday the criticism directed against Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, in the wake of her “selfie” with Miss Israel that has created uproar in the country and over social media.

He said during a press conference: “Greige will not be punished for her actions and she will not be stripped of her title.”

He instead slammed the “racist and baseless” campaign she has been subject to over social media.

“She should be supported instead of being condemned,” he declared.

Furthermore, the minister defended Greige saying that she sought to avoid taking a photograph with Miss Israel out of respect of the Lebanese people and to avoid provoking them.

He also backed her claims that Miss Israel had “photobombed” the picture taken at the Miss Universe pageant that is being held in Miami, Florida in the United States.

Pharaon said that this issue will remain open until Greige returns to Lebanon from the pageant.

Greige alleged that Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, had “photobombed” a photograph she was taking with Miss Slovenia and Miss Japan.

Matalon posted the photograph on her instagram account on January 11 and it soon circulated over the media, creating a furore in Lebanon.

"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)," Greige wrote in English on her page.

"I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia and myself, suddenly Miss Israel jumped in, took a selfie, and put it on her social media."

Matalon responded to the controversy herself on Sunday, saying it made her "sad."

Israel occupied parts of Lebanon for 22 years until 2000, but the two countries are still technically at war and both armies occasionally skirmish along the U.N.-designated withdrawal line.

Israel fought a bloody war against Hizbullah in 2006, which killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and some 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

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