A post by Pat

It’s a jarring dichotomy that poetry is highly regarded in a culture that dehumanizes women. In the Arab world, well known poets are treated like rock stars. One brave woman is rocking the boat with her poems.

“The Milliion’s Poet” is a talent contest show like “American Idol” or the British T.V. “X Factor”, but for poets. The run-of-the-mill poetry heard on the show is about Bedouin Life, praising the glories of rulers or ruing the disparity between rich and poor. Hissa Hilal, a Saudi housewife, did something different.

In a live broadcast across the entire Arab world, wearing her burkha, alone on stage, Hissa Hilal attacked hardline clerics as

‘vicious in voice, barbaric, angry and blind, wearing death as a robe cinched with a belt,’

The studio audience loved it. Viewers cast their votes for her. Militants issued death threats.

Brave Saudi housewife set to win Arabic X Factor after blistering attack on hardline Muslim clerics on live TV

‘My poetry has always been provocative,’ she said. ‘It’s a way to express myself and give voice to Arab women, silenced by those who have hijacked our culture and our religion.’

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.

She described hard-line clerics as ‘vicious in voice, barbaric, angry and blind, wearing death as a robe cinched with a belt,’ in an apparent reference to suicide bombers’ explosives belts.

The three judges gave her the highest marks for her performance, praising her for addressing a controversial topic. That, plus voting from the 2,000 people in the audience and text messages from viewers, put her through to the final round.

‘Hissa Hilal is a courageous poet,’ said al-Amimi.

Hilal said she had heard about the death threats posted on Islamic extremist websites and was concerned, but ‘not enough to send me into hiding’.

Some might fault her for wearing the burkha. I think it underscores her message. I hope we can keep track of her.

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3 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. IloiloKano says:

    I hope we can keep track of her.

    I do too. Some seriously fervent prayer for her safety might also be in order.

  2. eMVeeH says:

    You can’t oppress 50% of your population and expect them to just take it. Especially at the dawn of the 21st century. Modern technology certainly will help women like Ms. Hilal. G-d protect her and keep her strong.

    It sure is ironic that for all of the Islamic cleric’s attempts at keeping their populace “pure”, a show based on a Great-Satan program is a big hit in, of all places, Saudi Arabia? Hmm…Come to think of it, maybe it’s not so ironic. I mean does anyone think that a reality show could’ve been created in a totalitarian state the Saudi Arabia? No. Creativity ain’t halal, you know.

    • thierry says:

      well they’ve been oppressing half the population for 1000’s of years and those who won’t take it are generally imprisoned or killed. they seem to be most successful despite modern technology.they’re beheading a lebanese witch in the next couple of days. it’s easy to keep people down when the options include lobbing a head off.

      it’s the grossest of ironies that the technology that opened the world to iranians and was used to ‘ tweet’ their revolution was used to mercilessly track people down in order to slaughter them. this was aided by our friends at siemans and noikia who provided the iranian regime with technology designed to hunt their citizens down, tracking their phone and internet use.


      technology isn’t freeing islam’s oppressed- it’s helping kill them.

      my numerous saudi friends( a friend married into a wealthy saudi family ) through the years have proven themselves to be absolutely smitten with american/anglo pop culture. anyone from any wealth goes to school in america or the uk- and they bring what they can get away with back home with them.there’s a thriving black market for american music and dvds. people drink, people adore the culture of the decadent satan. the trick is to not get caught.

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