Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, has defended a controversial selfie of her mingling with an Israeli beauty queen at the Miss Universe contest, claiming her rival “jumped in” the photo.
The photo, which was posted on Instagram by Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, caused an uproar in Lebanon with local media and social network users slamming Greige for socialising with a citizen of an enemy state.
Following the backlash over the photo Ms Greige responded: “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, who tried several times to take a photo with me.”
“I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia, suddenly Miss Israel jumped in and took a selfie, and uploaded it on her social media.”
To all my supporters and Lebanese citizens, I would like to thank you indeed for your continuous support of Miss Lebanon at the Miss Universe contest... 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 isreal, who tried several times to take a photo with me. I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia, suddenly Miss Israel jumped in and took a selfie, and uploaded it on her social media. This is what happened and I hope to have your full support in the Miss Universe contest
Lebanon and Israel are still technically at war, despite the fact that the border has been relatively quiet since their 2006 conflict. A Lebanese person can be jailed if they call or travel to Israel and in Lebanon all Israeli products are banned.
On social media some users had been calling for Miss Lebanon to be stripped of her title. One user tweeted: “You [Greige] could have avoided mingling with the Israeli contestant like previous Lebanese contestants have done throughout the years. And if you were harassed like you say, you could have at least avoided the huge smile [we see] on your face.”
Israel’s Matalon weighed back into the debate over the weekend as she took to the photo sharing service to say: “Too bad you can not put the hostility out of the game, only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighboring country.”
לא שזה הפתיע אותי, אבל חבל שאי אפשר לשים את העוינות בצד , רק לשלושה שבועות שבהן יש לנו הזדמנות נדירה להכיר בנות מכל העולם (וגם מהמדינות השכנות) לשמוע על התרבויות השונות ולחוות את החוויה הזאת ביחד. It doesn't surprise me, but it still makes me sad. Too bad you can not put the hostility out of the game, only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighboring country. @salygreige_official @miss_israel @missunews @missuniverse @missuniversusa #lebanon #israel #missuniverse2014
In a statement released Monday the Miss Universe Organization, which is owned jointly by NBCUniversal and Donald Trump 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, which the Miss Universe pageant is all about.”