Miss Iraq contest returns after 43 years

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TIARA: Shaima Qasim was named the first Miss Iraq in 43 years after receiving her crown this week

TIARA: Shaima Qasim was named the first Miss Iraq in 43 years after receiving her crown this week

Organisers and contestants praised for standing up to terror threats

Iraq’s first national beauty contest since 1972 concluded earlier this week despite death threats targeted at organisers and contestants.

With just nine women vying for the crown this year amidst the safety concerns, it was student Shaima Qasim, who was eventually presented with the traditional tiara.

The economics major at the University of Kirkuk defied a direct threat of kidnap from Daesh (also known as Islamic State) to take part in the pageant, according to the Kuwaiti daily al-Watan.

She will now represent Iraq at the Miss Universe contest next year in Thailand.

Pageant director, Ahmed Leith, praised the resolute attitude of the contestants.

“Iraq needed this,” she said. “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.”

She added: “It is about having the courage to stand against all odds, something we all try to do.”

Support was also seen for Shaima and her fellow contestants on micro-blogging site, Twitter, following the conclusion of the competition.

“[I’m] proud of her courage despite her country's volatility” one Twitter user wrote, whilst another added: “Iraq has been a disaster. More than 700,000 victims and counting but we can be proud of the 1st Miss Beauty Pageant.”

The Miss Iraq competition was not the only beauty pageant to make the headlines this week.

At the annual Miss Universe competition, host Steve Harvey came in for criticism after announcing the wrong winner and having to rectify the results on stage minutes later.

Miss Puerto Rico was also suspended from the competition indefinitely after her anti-Muslim posts on Facebook.  

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