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South Africa Govt Withdraws Support From Country's Participation In Miss Universe At Israel

The country's Arts and Culture Ministry criticised Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane, for taking part in the Miss Universe event held in Israel as it goes against their pro-Palestine stand.

The South African government decided of withdrawing its support from Lalela Mswane, slated to represent South Africa at the upcoming Miss Universe pageant in Israel in December this year. A statement published by the country's arts and culture ministry reached upon after numerous discussions between them and Miss South Africa organisers that reached an unsatisfactory conclusion.

'Disastrous To Her Future'

The country's pro-Palestine stand was one of the main reasons for the withdrawal. "The atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians are well documented, and Government, as the legitimate representative of the people of South Africa, cannot in good conscience associate itself with such events," said the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture. The ministry also stated that her participation in the event could prove detrimental to her future.

A board member of a group called 'Africa4Palestine named Bram Hanekom told Reuters, "At this stage, participation of so-called Miss South Africa would be irrelevant. Nobody can say she is representing the country. It would leave her alone with the organisers who seem hell-bent to proceed."

On the opposite spectrum, the Miss South Africa pageant organisers were adamant on Mswane to take part, stating that Miss Universe is not a "politically inspired event." Despite the drastic step taken, the government still hopes for some reconciliation. "We still hope some common sense will prevail in the interest of the reigning queen, Lalela Mswane, and we remain open for discussions in that regard," the statement said in the end.

South Africa's Pro-Palestine Stand

The country has stood with Palestine for many years now. Nelson Mandela was known to have great relations with Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). South Africa established diplomatic relations with the region in 1995. Over the years, the country has gone on and condemned Israel several times for inflicting atrocities on the Palestinians, with prominent figures like Desmond Tutu making his stance known against Israel.

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