Islamic State threatens Miss Iraq: Join us or else

Miss Iraq Shaima Qassem reacts during the Miss Iraq Pageant in Baghdad December 19, 2015. — Reuters pic
Miss Iraq Shaima Qassem reacts during the Miss Iraq Pageant in Baghdad December 19, 2015. — Reuters pic

BAGHDAD, Dec 29 — The first Miss Iraq since 1972 has reportedly received a threatening phone call from a representative of the Islamic State (IS), demanding that she join their ranks or face being kidnapped.

Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan reported that Shaima Qassem, who was crowned on December 20, was contacted the following day by the militant group.

The pageant’s organisers said the 20-year-old beauty queen from Kirkuk in northern Iraq was distressed, but determined to “continue forward despite any obstacles.”

The first winner of the national beauty pageant in more than 40 years also told NBC News that she had done nothing wrong by participating in the contest.

“I want to prove that the Iraqi woman has her own existence in society, she has her rights like men,” she added.

“I am afraid of nothing, because I am confident what I am doing is not wrong.”

The Miss Iraq pageant has been fraught with controversy, prompting a backlash from religious hardliners with a number of contestants receiving death threats.

A total of 200 contestants were scheduled to take part, but fewer than 10 women participated in the final because of the threats.

Qassem will represent Iraq in the Miss Universe contest in Thailand in next March.

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