Despite the dangers of Isis and death threats to contestants, the Miss Iraq beauty pageant has been successfully held for the first time in over 40 years.
Shaymaa Abdelrahman, a 20-year-old from Kirkuk, became the first person to claim the title of Miss Iraq since the event was last held in 1972.
The pageant was held in a hotel in Baghdad and involved the eight contestants posing in dresses and high heels, before pitching ideas for charity projects to the judges.
It means Iraq will now be able to put forward a representative for the international Miss Universe contest.
Senan Kamel, the pagaent’s artistic director, told the Guardian: “What we’re hoping to accomplish is to make Iraq’s voice heard, show that it is still alive, that its heart is still beating.
The pageant has been put off during decades of conflict, impossible even for the contestants to throw off altogther.
When pitching her charity project, Ms Adbelrahman said she would use her fame to help education initiatives, in particular the thousands of people displaced by the on-going war.
“I’m very happy to see Iraq going forward,” Ms Abdelrahman told the Guardian. “This event was huge and put a smile on the faces of the Iraqis.”
The event was originally meant to be held in October but was delayed due to some of the contestants receiving death threats.
“I think it is wonderful; it makes you feel things can come back to normal,” human rights activist Hana Edward said.
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