Muslim women from six countries wore headscarves and elaborately embroidered dresses as they took to the stage Wednesday for the finale of an Islamic beauty pageant in Jakarta, Indonesia, a riposte to the Miss World contest that has sparked hardline anger.
Twenty contestants showed off the latest Islamic fashion trends in the Muslimah World pageant and will also take part in other activities, such as reciting the Koran.
“We’re just trying to show the world that Islam is beautiful,” said Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola, a 21-year-old contestant from Nigeria told Agence France Presse. “We are free and the hijab is our pride.” On Wednesday, Ajibola was crowned the winner of the pageant.
Organizers of the event said they wanted to show Muslim women there is an alternative to the idea of beauty put forward by the British-run Miss World pageant. They also stress that opposition to the pageant can be expressed non-violently.
Organizer Eka Shanti, who founded the pageant three years ago after losing her job as TV news anchor for refusing to remove her headscarf, bills the contest as “Islam’s answer to Miss World.”
“This year we deliberately held our event just before the Miss World final to show that there are alternative role models for Muslim women,” she told AFP.
Despite a pledge by Miss World organizers to drop the famous bikini round in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, Islamist demonstrators have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest the event, denouncing the contest as “pornography” and burning effigies of the organizers.