Iraq Has First Beauty Queen In More Than Four Decades


(RFE/RL) — The winner of Iraq’s first beauty pageant since 1972 says her new job will be to show that Iraq is still a “country of beauty and culture in the face of terrorism and violence.”

Shayma Qassim, 20, has been declared the winner of the pageant that was held amid tight security at a Baghdad hotel ballroom late on December 19.

The economics student from the city of Kirkuk was selected from among nine contestants in an alcohol-free affair with no swimsuit contest.

Qassim also said she would work to promote educational initiatives, especially among people displaced by conflict.

The event was organized by the nongovernmental Al-Mada Foundation for Media, Culture, and Information.

In the running up to the event, the finalists took part in prepageant activities, including the visit to a displaced people’s camp in Baghdad.

Al-Arabiya television reported that the event was originally due to be held in October, but was postponed after local clerics and tribal leaders condemned it as immoral.

Two competitors pulled out after receiving anonymous threats, the broadcaster said.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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