The Miss Iraq beauty pageant has been held for the first time since 1972 despite contestants receiving death threats.
The contest was held in an alcohol-free hotel ballroom in Baghdad, without participants having to wear skimpy bikinis, and has been heralded as demonstrating the spirit of the nation despite ongoing war.
In fact threats and continued battles with the so-called Islamic State prevented the competition being held when originally scheduled in October.
20-year-old Shaymaa Abdelrahman from Kirkuk took the crown to rapturous cheers and applause from the crowd.
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.”
Whether or not you believe beauty pageants to be empowering for participants, the fact is that in a nation where women are being threatened with death for daring to be involved, the successful staging of the event is a step forward for their rights.
Iraq can now put forward a candidate for the Miss Universe contest.