Miss Lebanon Saly Greige will not be stripped of her title or be punished over a selfie with Miss Israel, reports in Lebanon said.
According to a report in Lebanon's Daily Star, Lebanese Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon said Friday that Saly Greige will retain her title and even offered his support of the beauty queen
Greige faced massive critisicim in her home country after she posed for a selfie with Doron Matalon, Miss Israel for 2014, as the two prepared for the Miss Universe competition being held in Maima. Lebanese media and social networks have been in furor in recent days in wake of the picture, which Miss Lebanon now says "was photo-bombed" by Matalon.
“According to the information we obtained, Miss Lebanon did not have bad intentions that necessitates her being stripped of her title or punishment,” the minister was reported as saying.
“Miss Lebanon has been the subject of a racist and random campaign,” he said. “I see that we should support her," the minister said.
Greige has been attempting damage control, claiming that she was caught unaware.
“From the first day I arrived at the Miss Universe pageant I was very careful not to take any pictures with Miss Israel, who tried repeatedly to take pictures with me,” Lebanon's Daily Star quoted Greige as telling a local entertainment news site.
“While I was preparing with Miss Slovania and Miss Japan to get our photograph taken, Miss Israel jumped in and took a selfie with her phone and posted it on social media," she pleaded, attempting to defend herself from the massive waves of criticism being lobbed at her.
Some detractors are even calling for her title to be stripped from her in wake of the photo.
Lebanon's Al Jadid published a scathing report of the incident, in which they poked fun at Greige, and asked by the model, who once said she enjoys reading, failed to read a book explain that Israel is an enemy state.
It was only in October that the young woman became a cultural icon and a source of pride in her Christian village in north Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Matalon flatly denied Greige's explanation. "We took a group picture with Miss Slovenia, Miss Japan, and Miss Lebanon," said Matalon. "She must have received criticism from fans in Lebanon after I uploaded it, and now she will not stand next to me in any situation, and now Miss Egypt is behaving the same way."
Roi Kais contributed to this report