Lebanese Immigrant Becomes First Muslim Woman to be Crowned Miss U.S.A.

By Derrick Henry for The New York Times


Pageant organizers on Sunday night crowned a 24-year-old Lebanese immigrant from Michigan as Miss USA 2010.

Rima Fakih was born in Lebanon, moved to the United States as a baby and was raised in New York City, where she attended a Catholic school. She told pageant organizers her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths. Her family moved to Michigan in 2003, where she later became Miss Michigan USA.

Pageant officials told The Associated Press that pageant records were not detailed enough to show whether Ms. Fakih was the first Arab-American, Muslim or immigrant to win the Miss USA title. The pageant started in 1952 as a local swimsuit competition in Long Beach, Calif.

Ms. Fakih is from Dearborn and is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she earned her bachelors degree in economics with a minor in business administration, the pageant said in a release. She said she planned to attend law school after completing her term as Miss USA.

Fans in her state celebrated after learning that she had been crowned at the event held in Las Vegas.

“This is unbelievable,” Rami Haddad, 26, of Livonia told The Detroit Free Press on Sunday night. Mr. Haddad said he was one of Ms. Fakih’s biggest supporters. “It’s a dream come true. I can’t express my feelings.”

During the pageant, Ms. Fakih nearly fell in her evening gown because of the length of its train, but she recovered. During the interview portion she was asked whether she thought birth control should be paid for by health insurance. She said she believed it should because it is expensive.

“I believe that birth control is just like every other medication even though it’s a controlled substance,” Ms. Fakih said.

Miss Oklahoma USA, Morgan Elizabeth Woolard, was first runner-up. She was asked about Arizona’s new immigration law, and said she supported the law, which would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. She also said she was against illegal immigration but against racial profiling.

Donald Trump owns the pageant with NBC, which aired the event live

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