Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola wept and recited verses from the Islamic religious text after being crowned the winner of a beauty pageant for Muslim women in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old Nigerian was one of 20 finalists in the Muslimah World contest, billed as Islam’s answer to the controversial Miss World competition under way on the Indonesian island of Bali.
Contestants from Iran, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Nigeria and Indonesia were judged on their beauty, ability to recite Koranic verses and views on Islam in the modern world.
Wednesday’s final was held at a shopping mall. The women wore headscarves and long embroidered dresses as they walked up and down a catwalk in front of an audience of mainly religious scholars and devout Muslims.
Ajibola received 25 million rupiah, or $2,200, and trips to Mecca and India.
Organizers of the event, now in its third year, deliberately staged the contest ahead of the Sept. 28 final of the Miss World competition, which has drawn fierce criticism from hardline Muslims.
“This year we deliberately held our event just before the Miss World final to show there are alternative role models for Muslim women,” Muslimah World founder Eka Shanti was quoted as saying.
“But it’s about more than Miss World. Muslim women are increasingly working in the entertainment industry in a sexually explicit way. They become role models, which is a concern.”