Guerrilla reading, Saudi style

One of the hottest reality shows in the Middle East these days is Millions’ Poet, where poets from around the region compete to be named best Arabic poet. It’s sort of like American Idol, only the competitors actually have to write their own original poetry too as part of the competition. Even today, poetry remains a very important part of Middle East popular culture.

Earlier this year, Hissa Hilal won widespread acclaim – and some condemnation – when she competed and became a finalist for the grand prize. That’s right – she’s a she. Competing in a full abaya and niqab, she spoke out for women’s rights in her poetry as well.

This story from the BBC tells her story, and shows Hissa Hilal reciting her poetry:

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