A Nigerian woman tearfully prayed and recited Koranic verses as she won a beauty pageant exclusively for Muslim women in the Indonesian capital Wednesday, a riposte to the Miss World contest that has sparked hard-line anger.
The 20 finalists, who were all required to wear headscarves, put on a glittering show for the final of Muslimah World, strolling up and down a catwalk in elaborately embroidered dresses and stilettos.
But the contestants from six countries were covered from head to foot, and as well as beauty they were judged on how well they recited Koranic verses and their views on Islam in the modern world.
After a show in front of an audience of mainly religious scholars and devout Muslims, a panel of judges picked Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola from Nigeria as the winner.
While the event in a Jakarta shopping mall paled in comparison to Miss World on the resort island of Bali, in which scores of contestants are competing, Ajibola was nevertheless overwhelmed.
Upon hearing her name, the 21-year-old knelt down and prayed, then wept as she recited a Koranic verse.
She said “thanks to almighty Allah” that she had won the contest. She received 25 million rupiah ($2,200) and trips to Mecca and India as prizes.
According to AFP, Ajibola said before the final that the event “was not really about competition”. “We’re just trying to show the world that Islam is beautiful,” she said.
Organisers said the pageant challenged the idea of beauty put forward by the British-run Miss World pageant, and also showed that opposition to the event could be expressed non-violently.