21-year old Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola is Nigeria’s representative at the Muslimah World Pageant, scheduled to hold in Jakarta, Indonesia today.
The University of Lagos student will contest at the finale of a beauty pageant exclusively for Muslim women , a riposte to the Miss World contest in Bali that has drawn fierce opposition from Islamic radicals.
Twenty contestants will show off the latest Islamic fashion trends in the Muslimah World pageant and will also take part in other activities, such as reciting the Koran, aimed at demonstrating their piety.
“We’re just trying to show the world that Islam is beautiful. We are free and the hijab (Muslim headscarf) is our pride,” said Ajibola.
The contestants can only enter the competition if they wear a headscarf and have undergone three days of “spiritual training” in the run-up to the final in Jakarta, waking up before dawn to pray together and sharpen their Koranic reading skills.
Organisers say they want to show Muslim women there is an alternative to the idea of beauty put forward by the British-run Miss World pageant, and also want to show that opposition to the pageant can be expressed non-violently.