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When every news channel was covering the highlights from the big event: Miss Universe 2015, i found out a very surprising and interesting news from the land of war and terror and the news is, Iraq organized their first national beauty pageant in more than 40 years .
The event was originally scheduled in October, but threats from religious fundamentalists and conservative groups within Iraq resulted in the delay of the contest. Most of the contestants had to withdraw from this event because of these threats, only eight of them chose to continue.

Iraqi women taking part in the Miss Iraq beauty contest pose on stage on December 19, 2015 in the capital Baghdad. The beauty contest is the first one in more than 40 years to take place in the war torn country. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

 

It was a beautiful event with traditional hookah and also it was alcohol-free. They excluded swimsuit contest. Saturday’s pageant gave its first Miss Iraq in four decades in the history of the country. The idea behind organizing the event was to demonstrate the spirit of doing something positive even with so many issues the country go through.

“We look forward to have a good ambassador for Iraq,” said Senan Kamel, the 2015 pageant’s artistic director, who also organised Iraq’s first fashion show in years last March.
“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,” he said.
The contestant instead of participating in activities like bikini walks decided to keep it simple yet elegant by visiting refugee camps, orphanages and tree plantation to show their concern and to show the positive side of the event.

 

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Even with so much of violence and protests outside the venue the management did their best to make the event successful.

The jury chose Shaymaa Abdelrahman: a tall and green-eyed 20 year old from Iraq’s multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk, during her interview with the news channel she said “I’m very happy to see Iraq going forward,” “This event was huge and put a smile on the faces of the Iraqis.”
There is a possibility that she was scared which is quite obvious as may be who are sitting inside the hall might be supporting and cheering for her, can be a threat for her in the future. Also the one who showed so much of courage to continue and make the event happen had fear in their hearts as all others left to save them from the problems.

 

2015-635862099374981886-498                                                          Shaima Qassim celebrates after being crowned Miss Iraq

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The winner said she would use her fame to support educational initiatives especially among the massive population of people who have been displaced by conflict.
Hard to believe but here beauty pageants was supposed 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.

In the end, I would say that despite the dangers of ISIS and death threats to contestants, the Miss Iraq beauty pageant was a successful event and also the event gave a message that only a positive idea can overcome the fear and can bring a change.