Saturday, August 21, 2010

Another American Muslim Speaks Out

Rima Fakih, a Muslim and native of Dearborn Michigan, which has one of the highest concentrations of Muslims of any community in the US, has publicly come out against plans to build a mosque at Ground Zero: "It shouldn't be so close to the World Trade Center. We should be more concerned with the tragedy than religion."

Fakih also said that "I totally agree with President Obama with the statement on the constitutional rights of freedom of religion."

Fakih, by the way, is the reigning Miss USA. She made the comments about the proposed Ground Zero Mosque in an interview with Inside Edition, which aired last night.

Fakih is currently in Las Vegas preparing to represent the United States in the upcoming Miss Universe contest, which takes place on Monday night.

Rima Fakih was born in Lebanon in 1985, and her family moved to New York City in 1993 during the Lebanese Civil War. In 2003 her family moved to Dearborn Michigan. She has a degree in economics and plans to attend Law School after she's is done with the whole beauty pageant thing, which is so far working out pretty well for her. In addition to being Miss Michigan, Miss USA and a Miss Universe contestant, she has also won the Miss Lebanon Emigrant pageant in 2008, and was fourth runner up in the Miss Wayne County pageant at the age of 19.

Here is an interesting excerpt from a Voice of America article by David Byrd on Fakih which ran just after she was crowned Miss USA:
[W]inning the title was just the beginning. Rima Fakih's family is Shia Muslim, something that does not easily jibe with the public perception of a beauty queen, particularly in the Miss USA pageant, where contestants parade in bikinis.

But Rima - who got involved in pageants to help pay for school - says she doesn't see that as inconsistent with her family's faith. "I don't define myself around religion and my family does not as well. We are Muslim. We respect the religion. We might not be as strict, but we're not defined by religion but we do spiritually appreciate every religion," said Miss USA.

One of the people who helped Rima Fakih in her quest is Imad Hamad, the Regional Director and Senior National Advisor for Public Affairs of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He said the fact that Rima is a Shi'ite Muslim should not be an issue - she is a beautiful young woman who deserved to win.
The Miss USA contest is more of a straight-up beauty pageant than the Miss America contest -- mostly because they skip the whole surreal spectacle of the "talent" sub-contest. But there is an "interview" segment, for which Rima Fakih was asked whether she thought birth control should be paid for by health insurance, and she said she believed it should: "I believe that birth control is just like every other medication."