Saudi woman attacks radical clerics on reality show

A screenshot of Hissa Hilal, a Saudi contestant on the game show “Poet of Millions,” performing on the set in Abu Dhabi.

Via NY Times’ The Lede:

A Saudi woman received a death threat last week after she appeared on “Poet of Millions,” Abu Dhabi’s version of the game show “American Idol” — which features aspiring poets instead of singers — and recited a poem attacking clerics for “terrorizing people and preying on everyone seeking peace.”

This week she returned to perform a similar poem and was rewarded by the judges who made her the first female contestant to reach the show’s final round.

As the newspaper The National reports from Abu Dhabi, the woman, Hissa Hilal, “sparked controversy in Saudi Arabia, especially on Internet forums.”

“According to reports, many viewers praised her for her courage, but others attacked her for criticizing clerics and reciting her poems in public,” the newspaper wrote. “One website called for her death.”

The NY Times post includes a rough translation of her most recent verse:

I have seen evil from the eyes of the subversive fatwas in a time when what is lawful is confused with what is not lawful;

When I unveil the truth, a monster appears from his hiding place; barbaric in thinking and action, angry and blind; wearing death as a dress and covering it with a belt [referring to suicide bombing];

He speaks from an official, powerful platform, terrorizing people and preying on everyone seeking peace; the voice of courage ran away and the truth is cornered and silent, when self-interest prevented one from speaking the truth.

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