A newly crowned Lebanese beauty queen has been stripped of her crown after it was revealed she violated the country's laws by taking an academic visit to Israel.
Amanda Hanna, a dual Swedish-Lebanese citizen, was crowned Miss Lebanon Emigrant 2017 before she ran afoul of Lebanon's strict restrictions on travel to Israel, according to media reports. Lebanese law prohibits citizens from visiting Israel or even communicating with Israelis. Contact with Israelis is illegal and can carry jail time. Pageant organizers say Hanna violated those laws by using her Swedish passport to take an academic trip to Israel in 2016.
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"After communicating our decision with Lebanon's Minister of Tourism, he decided that Hanna should be stripped of her title because her visit to Israel violates our country's laws," pageant organizers told Lebanese newspaper Al Modon.
While it was legal for her to visit as a Swedish citizen, Lebanon's taboo against contact with Israelis was strong enough for pageant organizers to punish Hanna.
Lebanon remains officially at war with Israel despite the border remaining primarily peaceful since 2006. The Lebanese government retains broad power to control communication with or about Israel, and it even banned the film Wonder Woman because the heroine was played by Israeli citizen and Miss Israel 2004, Gal Gadot.
Hanna's punishment follows previous controversies that involved Lebanese beauty queens having contact with Israelis. Miss Lebanon 2014 Saly Greige nearly had her title stripped when she was photographed with Miss Israel at the Miss Universe Competition. Greige said at the time she was photo-bombed and made a point to avoid the Israeli competitor. Greige explained:
Since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss Universe, I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel, who tried several times to take a photo with me.
I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia, suddenly Miss Israel jumped in and took a selfie, and uploaded it on her social media.
After calls for her to be punished, Greige was ultimately allowed to keep her title.
It is unclear at this time if Hanna faces any legal trouble for her trip to Israel.