Saudi woman blasts Muslim clerics

OPEN DEFIANCE
Saudi woman blasts Muslim clerics religious edicts on TV

,United Arab Emirates: It was a startling voice of protest at a startling venue.Covered head-to-toe in black,a Saudi woman lashed out at hard-line Muslim clerics harsh religious edicts in verse on live TV at a popular Arabic version of American Idol.
Well,not quite American Idol : Contestants compete not in singing but in traditional Arabic poetry.Over the past episodes,poets sitting on an elaborate stage before a live audience have recited odes to the beauty of Bedouin life and the glories of their rulers or mourning the gap between rich and poor.
Then last week,Hissa Hilal,only her eyes visible through her black veil,delivered a blistering poem against Muslim preachers who sit in the position of power but are frightening people with their fatwas,or religious edicts,and preying like a wolf on those seeking peace.Her poem got loud cheers from the audience and won her a place in the competitions finals,to be aired on Wednesday.
It also brought her death threats,posted on several Islamic militant Web sites.My poetry has always been provocative, she said in an interview.Its 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 hardline clerics in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region who hold a wide influence through television programs,university positions or Web sites.Killing a human being is so easy for them,it is always an option, she said.AP

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