Iraq crowned its first beauty queen in 40 years, 20-year old Shayma Qassim on Saturday Dec. 19. Three days later Qassim received a threatening phone call from the Islamic State, telling her to join the terror group or they will kidnap her
According to the organizers of the contest, Qassim, who is originally from Kirkuk, vowed she will not be deterred, saying she would “continue forward despite any obstacles.” The beauty queen plans to represent Iraq in the next Miss Universe competition.
The Miss Iraq pageant was originally scheduled for October, but was moved to December after tribal leaders demanded no women from their families participate. Organizers reported two women bowed out after receiving death threats. In addition, the swimsuit competition was cancelled and a competition in a more modest outfit was substituted. Hijabs were banned for participants.
The final competition – the only part open to the media — was held in a hotel in Baghdad. Eight contestants in evening gowns vied for the title.
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Miss Iraq Shaima Qassem reacting during the Miss Iraq Pageant in Baghdad, December 19, 2015. © Ahmed Saad / Reuters