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News24.com | Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem thanks Lalela Mswane for bravery amid Miss Universe backlash

Lalela Mswane, Miss Universe South Africa 2021, starred in a fashion show showcasing Haboydem and their sustainable dresses.

Lalela Mswane, Miss Universe South Africa 2021, starred in a fashion show showcasing Haboydem and their sustainable dresses.

Photo: by BENJAMIN ASKINAS/ Miss Universe

The Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, thanked Miss Universe South Africa, Lalela Mswane for her bravery and "speaking truth to power".

The 24-year-old is South Africa's representative at the 70th edition of Miss Universe in Eilat, Israel on 12 December. 

The annual beauty pageant has been marred with controversy since it was announced that this year's competition would be hosted in Israel, which is accused of committing atrocities against Palestinians.

"I thanked #MissUniverse South African contestant Lalela Mswane for speaking truth to power and not just being a beautiful but a very brave lady," Fleur tweeted, following a fashion event hosted in Jerusalem.

"A special moment was recorded at the event when Hassan Nahum addressed the beauty queen of South Africa, Lalela Mswane, and thanked her for the courage she demonstrated in front of BDS officials before arriving in Israel for the competition," [translated from Hebrew] reported Kol Ha'ir

Fleur currently serves as Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem in charge of foreign relations, international economic development and tourism.

The tweet was met with mixed reactions, to which she later responded: "Getting a lot of #SouthAfrican hate messages since posting about #MissUniverse and all I can think about are the groups that come to Israel from #SA expecting to see apartheid and being very confused when they don't see and instead they experience racism from #Palestinian."

Following her arrival in Israel, Lalela has expressed her "deepest gratitude for the overwhelming love" ahead of coronation night.

Despite a global call to boycott the event and concern surrounding the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, Lalela said in an Instagram post: "Thank you all so much for embracing me so warmly and making my journey one that's incredibly special."