Miss Iraq Crowned

Published: December 23, 2015

Miss Iraq Crowned, A new Miss Iraq was crowned in Baghdad for the first time since 1972 in a contest that faced fierce conservative opposition as well as reported death threats against some participants.

“I want to prove that the Iraqi woman has her own existence in society, she has her rights like men,” the winner, 20-year-old Shaima Qassem Abdelrahman, told NBC News. “I am afraid of nothing, because I am confident that what I am doing is not wrong.”

Organizers hoped the revival of the beauty pageant would “highlight the bright side of Iraq,” according to the group’s website. But safety fears put the televised event in question, as hard-liners and tribal leaders argued that it was un-Islamic and immoral.

Death threats were posted on the pageant’s Facebook page, and at least some contestants were reported to have pulled out.

In response, organizers delayed the event from its original start date in October and removed a swimsuit portion.

“Iraq needed this,” Ahmed Leith, the pageant director, told CNN. “The situation is weak here, and we wanted to celebrate this the same way other countries like Lebanon and others do. To have a sense of normalcy.”

Two of Ms. Abdelrahman’s cousins, both Iraqi police officers, were killed fighting Islamic State fighters, NBC reported. She said she would use her fame to work on educational initiatives, especially for those displaced by the conflict, reports said.

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