The home of the founder of a beauty contest in Egypt’s Delta region was set ablaze as the initiative was met with stringent opposition in the conservative province.
Despite the widespread intimidation Fatima Baker has been subjected to, the contest is scheduled to take place next week, featuring ten contestants chosen out of 250 candidates.
Many in the heavily Islamist region thought that the contest would bring shame on the contestants and their families, but Baker told Al Arabiya Network that the opposition resulted from “a misunderstanding of the contest and its purpose.”
“The contest, which is the first of its kind in Egypt, isn’t just about physical beauty, but also about education, fitness, style, aspirations, knowledge of the Quran and social activism,” she said.
She also welcomed the positive responses from the families of the 250 candidates. “Suffice it to say that within days we received 250 applications and had to close the registration,” she said, adding that one contestant wrote in her application that she had read more than 1000 books and would like to be tested on them in the competition, and that there were other contestants who were encouraged to apply by their husbands.
“The winner won’t be selected based on her beauty,” she concluded. “The contest is not at all about that. I’m a resident of the Delta region and I’m against showcasing local girls in this way.”