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A brave Saudi housewife has reached the final of the Arabic version of the X Factor after lashing out at hardline Muslim clerics on live TV.
Wearing a black burkha, mother-of-four Hissa Hilal delivered a blistering poem against Muslim preachers 'who sit in the position of power' but are 'frightening' people with their fatwas, or religious edicts, and 'preying like a wolf' on those seeking peace.
Her poem got loud cheers from the audience last week and won her a place in the competition's final on April 7.
It also brought her death threats, posted on several Islamic militant websites.
Over the past episodes, poets sitting on an elaborate stage before a live audience have recited odes to the beauty of Bedouin life and the glories of their rulers or mourning the gap between rich and poor.
Hilal is the first to launch a political attack - a brave move by a Saudi woman.
'My poetry has always been provocative,' she said. 'It's a way to express myself and give voice to Arab women, silenced by those who have hijacked our culture and our religion.'
Her poem was seen as a response to Sheik Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, a prominent cleric in Saudi Arabia who recently issued a fatwa saying those who call for the mingling of men and women should be considered infidels, punishable by death.
But, more broadly, it was seen as addressing any of many hard-line clerics in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region who hold a wide influence through TV programmes, university positions or websites.
'Killing a human being is so easy for them, it is always an option,' she told AP.
Poetry holds a prominent place in Arab culture, and some poets in the Middle East have a fan base akin to those of rock stars.
Hilal's 15-verse poem was in a form known as Nabati, native to nomadic tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. She criticised extremism that she told AP is 'creeping into our society' through fatwas.
'I have seen evil in the eyes of fatwas, at a time when the permitted is being twisted into the forbidden,' she said in the poem.
She called such edicts 'a monster that emerged from its hiding place' whenever 'the veil is lifted from the face of truth'.
She described hard-line clerics as 'vicious in voice, barbaric, angry and blind, wearing death as a robe cinched with a belt,' in an apparent reference to suicide bombers' explosives belts.
The three judges gave her the highest marks for her performance, praising her for addressing a controversial topic. That, plus voting from the 2,000 people in the audience and text messages from viewers, put her through to the final round.
'Hissa Hilal is a courageous poet,' said al-Amimi. 'She expressed her opinion against the kind of fatwas that affect people's lives and raised an alarm against these ad hoc fatwas coming from certain scholars who are inciting extremism.'