A Danish television station held a “Miss Headscarf 2008” beauty contest to show “cool Muslim women who often make up a very fashion-conscious and style-confident part of the Danish street scene.” The hope behind the pageant was to quell the controversy over calls for a ban on Islamic dress in public and foster healthy debate.
One behind the pageant says, "We would like to contact all the Muslim women who are seldom heard in the debate but are often just as preoccupied with fashion and beauty as other women." Entrants in the pageant don't have to be Muslim, they just need to submit a photo of themselves wearing a headscarf. One of the contestants in her video says, "It's about the time the media talked to us, and not about us all the time."
Not everyone thinks it's a great idea. To see why not, the BBC video of the story, and the winner,
This idea is widely criticized by Islamic traditionalists, one of whom, a spokesman for the Islamic Society, said: “I strongly advise the girls to shun the competition," and went on to compare the women competing to nuns competing in a beauty pageant. This is the second conflict Danish media has had with Islamist fundamentalism since 2005 when a newspaper depicted the image of the prophet Mohammed, which sparked outrage and the threats of attack. The winner of the controversial contest is 18-year-old Huda Falah.
Can a contest like this foster healthy debate and a greater understanding of women in the faith? Does the very notion of the pageant go against their religion?