Apr 1 2010
A brave Saudi housewife has reached the finals of the Arabic version of American Idol after lashing out at hardline Muslim clerics on live TV.
Wearing a black burka, mother-of-four Hissa Hilal delivered a blistering poem against Muslim preachers ‘who sit in the position of power’ but are ‘frightening’ people with their fatwas, or religious edicts, and ‘preying like a wolf’ on those seeking peace.
Her poem got loud cheers from the audience last week and won her a place in the competition’s final on April 7. It also brought her death threats, posted on several Islamic militant websites.
The programme, ‘The Million’s Poet’, is a chance for poets to show off their original work and is broadcast live every week on satellite television across the Arab world from Abu Dhabi. Contestants are graded on voice and style of recitation, but also on their subject matter, said Sultan al-Amimi, one of the three judges on the show and a manager of Abu Dhabi’s Poetry Academy.
Over the past episodes, poets sitting on an elaborate stage before a live audience have recited odes to the beauty of Bedouin life and the glories of their rulers or mourning the gap between rich and poor. Hilal is the first to launch a political attack – a brave move by a Saudi woman. ‘My poetry has always been provocative,’ she said. ‘It’s a way to express myself and give voice to Arab women, silenced by religious fundamentalists.’
Her poem was seen as a response to Sheik Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, a prominent cleric in Saudi Arabia who recently issued a fatwa saying those who call for the mingling of men and women should be considered infidels, punishable by death.
But, more broadly, it was seen as addressing any of many hard-line clerics in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region who hold a wide influence through TV programmes, university positions or websites.’Killing a human being is so easy for them, it is always an option,’ she told AP.
‘Hissa Hilal is a courageous poet,’ said al-Amimi. ‘She expressed her opinion against the kind of fatwas that affect people’s lives and raised an alarm against these ad hoc fatwas coming from certain scholars who are inciting extremism.UK DAILY MAIL