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October 18, 2018 4:54 pm

Lebanon’s Miss Earth Contestant Says She ‘Will Finish What I Started’ After Being Stripped of Title for Taking Photo With Miss Israel

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Salwa Akar. Photo: Facebook.

Lebanon’s representative in the upcoming Miss Earth pageant was stripped of her title after she took a photograph with Miss Earth Israel leading up to the international competition in the Philippines, it was reported on Wednesday.

After the photo, which showed Lebanese contestant Salwa Akar with her arm around Miss Earth Israel Dana Zreik as they both made a peace sign with their hands, circulated online, the organizers of Miss Earth Lebanon issued a statement to local media saying they “categorically rejected the relationship with Israel” and withdrew Akar’s title, the Daily Mail reported.

Akar claimed that Zreik spoke to her in Arabic and she did not know the fellow contestant was Israeli, according to The Jerusalem Post. The Lebanese pageant organizer said Zreik was wearing a sash that said “Israel” and it did not accept Zreik’s excuse.

The Miss Earth competition is an international beauty pageant that seeks to promote environmental awareness. The pageant is set to take place on November 3 in the Philippines, and participants arrived in the country earlier this month for events and competitions.

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Zreik, who is an Israeli Arab, has not commented on the situation but Akar confirmed on Facebook on Wednesday that she had been stripped of her title, and vowed she would not let this hold her back. She wrote, “I don’t need a ‘title’ to be myself.. I, the Soul am peace.. and I will finish what I started with or without your support and love..God is always beside me, he knows me more than anyone..and he knows what’s in my heart.”

Ofir Gendelman, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Arab media spokesperson, tweeted on Tuesday that Akar “had her title revoked today in Lebanon b/c she ‘dared’ to take this photo w/ Miss Israel… Lebanese apartheid must be condemned.”

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