I’d like to give it up to Hissa Hilal, a Saudi woman who’s caused some controversy for slamming Islamic extremists in an American Idol spinoff called Million’s Poet. Instead of singing, contestants are judged based on how well they recite poems in front of a live audience; a panel of judges, along with thousands of viewers voting by text message, determine who walks away with the $1.3 million prize.
Over the past episodes, poets romanticized Arab culture with odes to Bedouin life and glorious leaders. Then last week, Hilal, a former journalist, decided to give the audience a dose of reality with her anti-extremist poem against Muslim clerics “who sit in the position of power” but are “frightening” people with their fatwas and “preying like a wolf” on those seeking peace. Hilal laid it on thick, garnering loud cheers from the audience and winning a slot in the competition’s finals.
She is the first woman to do so, and after watching season after season of Million’s Poet, she finally worked up the courage to audition. “This is my chance to reach millions of people,” she told ABC News.