Iraq gets first miss pageant in 40 yearsIraq held first internationally recognized miss beauty contest since 1972, showing unfamiliar side of a country which its name has become synonymous to violence and epicenter of the world's anti-terror war.
Iraq held first internationally recognized miss beauty contest since 1972, showing unfamiliar side of a country which its name has become synonymous to violence and epicenter of the world's anti-terror war.
The contest was held at a ballroom of Crystal Grand Ishtar Hotel in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, as crowds of people spilled out of the place.
The jury chose Shaymaa Abdul-Rahman, 20, from Iraq's ethnically mix city of Kirkuk, according to the international criteria of beauty contests, and under the pressure of those in attendance, especially in the back rows where dozens of young men were shouting her name.
At the end of the contest the green-eyed Shymaa Abdul-Rahman was crowned as Miss Iraq. The winner is a student in the college of management and economics in Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad.
"This event represents a challenge to us, as we want to prove that Iraq is still a country of beauty and culture in front of terrorism and violence," Rahman told reporters as she was trying to fend off a crowd of admirers who were hoping to win a selfie with her.
"This is a humanitarian message which I will convey to the world," she said.
The winner also said that she will use her fame to launch educational initiatives, especially among those people who have been displaced by violence.
The pageant of Miss Iraq was announced September, since then the organizers of the contest faced anger from some religious, and tribal leaders and extremist groups, who see that such events would be against the Muslim and social ethics.
Some contestants withdrew from the event under death threats, which also forced the organizers to cancel the swimsuits show from the contest. In addition, the event was not broadcast live on Iraqi televisions in order to avoid possible harsh critics.
Caption: Participants wait for judges to determine the winner of Miss Iraq during the final round of judging in Baghdad. Photo: Reuters
The beauty pageant competition started in Iraq in 1947, and the last one was held in 1972.
The latest contest was held as the security situation in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since June 10 last year, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and the Islamic State (IS) extremist group which seizes large parts of the country.