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Nigerian beauty captures Muslim-only pageant crown

Obabiya Aishah Ajibola

Obabiya Aishah Ajibola

(GIN) — In a contest that highlights religious values and Islamic fashions, 21-year-old Obabiya Aishah Ajibola of Nigeria was the tearful winner of the coveted prize.

The beauty pageant for Muslims took place in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, prior to the Miss World competition, which was relocated to Bali after protests by hard-line Indonesian Muslim groups who found it offensive.

Twenty finalists were selected from 500 online applicants. They shared thoughts on the importance of motherhood, the dangers of the Internet and the value of Islamic finance. They were vying for the “crown of modesty,” a golden statue of a woman giving thanks to God and an all-expenses-paid trip to Mecca.

The finalists hailed from Bangladesh, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria and Brunei.

When her name was announced, Ms Ajibola dropped to her knees and recited a verse from the Koran. She was awarded $2,200 and trips to Mecca and India.

The pageant was started three years ago by Eka Shanti, a TV news presenter who lost her job for refusing to remove her headscarf.

“This is an international event to appreciate women who have talent, dedication, and a reputation in their communities for being young, but also giving back to others,” said Shanti.

The pageant is based around “sholehah,” she explained, an Islamic term meaning someone who is pious, has good morals and observes Islamic rules and codes. She called it a “formula,” for understanding the ideal woman, “regardless of your religion.”

It is not intended as a challenge or in opposition to Miss World, she said, but as a way of rejecting negative stereotypes about Muslim women.

“People think we are against Miss World. What we’re against is nudity. For the sake of education, I want to give another example.”

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