Nigerian Aisha Ajibola wins first ever international Muslim Miss World beauty pageant

20 Eylül 2013 at 13:45




NIGERIAN 21-year old Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola has been voted the most beautiful Muslim woman in the world after being crowned Miss Muslimah at the finals of the beauty pageant in Indonesia.

In the first international pageant of its kind designed exclusively for Muslim women, the contest was organised to counter opposition to the organisation of the Miss World contest in Indonesia, which has attracted fierce criticism from Muslim hardliners. During the event, all 20 finalists were required to wear headscarves and stroll up and down a catwalk in elaborately embroidered dresses and stilettos.

Contestants from six countries were covered from head to foot and as well as beauty, they were judged on how well they recited Koranic verses and their views on Islam in the modern world. After a show in front of an audience of mainly religious scholars and devout Muslims, the panel of judges picked Ms Ajibola as the winner.

While the event in a Jakarta shopping mall paled in comparison to Miss World on the resort island of Bali, in which scores of contestants are competing, Ms Ajibola was nevertheless overwhelmed by the occasion.  Upon hearing her name being announced as the winner, she knelt down and prayed, then wept as she recited a Koranic verse.

She received a cash prize of 25m rupiah ($2,200) and trips to Mecca and India as prizes. Organisers said the pageant challenged the idea of beauty put forward by the British-run Miss World pageant and also showed that opposition to the event could be expressed non-violently.

Ms Ajibola said: “The event was not really about competition. We’re just trying to show the world that Islam is beautiful.”

Eka Shanti, who founded the pageant three years ago after losing her job as a TV news anchor for refusing to remove her headscarf, billed the contest as Islam’s answer to Miss World. Hosted by Dewi Sandra, an Indonesian actress and pop star who recently hung up her racy dresses for a headscarf, the pageant featured both Muslim and pop music performances, including one about modesty, a trait the judges sought in the winner.

Ms Shanti said: “This year we deliberately held our event just before the Miss World final to show that there are alternative role models for Muslim women. But it’s about more than Miss World as Muslim women are increasingly working in the entertainment industry in a sexually explicit way and they become role models, which is a concern.”

Thousands of Indonesians have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest Miss World, denouncing the contest as pornography and burning effigies of the organisers. Despite a pledge by the Miss World organisers to drop the famous bikini round, radical anger was not appeased and the Indonesian government eventually bowed to pressure and ordered the whole pageant be moved to the Hindu-majority island of Bali, where it opened on September 8.

More than 500 contestants competed in online rounds to get to the Muslimah World final in Indonesia, one of which involved the contenders comparing stories of how they came to wear the headscarf. First held in 2011 under a different name, the contest was then only open to Indonesians, but after the media began comparing it to Miss World, it was rebranded as a Muslim alternative to the world-famous pageant and this year, organisers accepted foreign contestants from Iran, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Brunei and Nigeria.

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