Upper Egypt is known as one of the country’s most conservative regions.
Beauty pageants are as prevalent in the U.S. as the pumpkin latte, especially in the South. It can be hard to remember that the freedom to don a bikini isn’t always accepted or well-received in other countries around the world.
The first ever beauty pageant in Upper Egypt, an ultra-conservative region, has been cancelled due to security concerns after threats of violence. It was scheduled to occur in Assiut, a region 200 miles south of Cairo – an area known for its ultra-traditional views on gender and religion.
News of the competition inspired angry protests online and in the local media. The organizer, Fatima Bakr, had received death threats from people who threatened to burn down her office or the hotel where the event was to be held. The organizers had yet to apply for security permission for the event so police were not scheduled to guard the hotel if a demonstration were to occur. In turn, the hotel decided to cancel the event as they would been held responsible to restore order.
While pageant contestants everywhere from Miss USA to Miss World are donning as little as a string bikini, these women (10 in total) were all going to be wearing headscarves and using the competition to focus on their inner beauty, rather than their looks. One stage of the competition was going to involve a demonstration of their knowledge of the Quaran (the Islamic holy book).
Women’s groups around Egypt were looking forward to such an event to applaud the showcasing of a different side of their country. Although other areas of Egypt have been a part of beauty pageants before – a Miss Egypt competition has occurred since the 1950s and even Miss World of 1954 was from Egypt – this section of the country has yet to catch up to today’s ideals and gender roles.
What do you think of this cancellation? Should they still be allowed to hold a competition?