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Muslim immigrant is crowned Miss USA

Contributed by Anonymous on Thursday, May 20 @ 11:17:00 CDT

International: Race, Class
The Times of India, May 20 2010

WASHINGTON: The economically broken city of Detroit and the socially beleaguered Arab-American community both got a shot in the arm over the weekend when a Michigan beauty won the Miss USA 2010 title to much acclaim across the country.

Rima Fakih, a 24-year old Lebanese immigrant, is believed to be the first Muslim to win the pageant despite stumbling over her evening gown during the finale in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Fakih moved to the United States as a child and attending a Catholic school, celebrating both Muslim and Christian faiths, according to pageant organizers.

News of her victory delighted Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans, whose largest concentration in the US is in the city of Dearborn, just outside Detroit, Michigan.

'This is the real face of Arab Americans, not the stereotypes you hear about,' Zouheir Alawieh, a local resident told the Detroit Free Press, the local daily that also celebrated her win. 'We have culture. We have beauty. We have history, and today we made history... She believed in her dreams.'

With two US. flags in front of the stage inside a Dearborn restaurant, Arab Americans cheered, danced, and sang into the night Sunday for Rima Fakih, the paper reported.

During the pageant, Fakih nearly tripped over her evening gown because of the length of its train, but recovered to answer her interview question with poise, revealing a liberal outlook in the process.

She was asked whether she thought birth control should be paid for by health insurance. She said she believed it should because it is expensive.

"I believe that birth control is just like every other medication even though it’s a controlled substance," she said, in a response that will cause more than a frown among the clergy.

She also revealed a lighter touch. When asked how she felt about winning the crown, she responded: "Ask me after I've had a pizza."

Fakih is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in business administration, according to a pageant release. Currently a marketing executive at Detroit Medical Center, she said she planned to attend law school after completing her term as Miss USA.

Michigan, particularly the Detroit-Dearborn area, is in an economic funk following the decline of the automobile industry that gave the America’s 11th largest metropolis the "Mo-town" moniker. Fittingly, Fakih’s win was followed by General Motors posting its first quarterly profit since 2007.

There is no accurate count of Muslims in the US, much less those of Arabic descent, since the US Census Bureau does not collect data on the basis of religion. Muslim population in the country ranges from 7 million, claimed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to 2.5 million estimated by the Pew Research Center.



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