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‘I Am Here to Prove You Wrong’

  • July 04, 2020

“I am a Muslim feminist,” Zeytuna Mohamed, a 22-year-old nursing student from Des Moines, said onstage. “Many people think that those two words are incompatible, but I am here to prove you wrong. I am not oppressed. I am not passive, and I am certainly not caged.”

Umuhani Abdullahi, 20 and representing Kentucky, said in her speech: “This is my home, America. This is the only home that I know right now. I passionately dream of seeing girls like me in fashion books, on billboards, in Coca-Cola advertisements and obviously in movies. Hopefully Netflix.”

Just like several American beauty pageants, Miss Muslimah has had its share of shake-ups while attempting to establish itself as a legitimate organization.

In 2017, Dr. Khadijah Ismael, 42, won the first pageant, in which she ran on a platform of knocking down stereotypes about Muslim women. After winning, she traveled on a speaking tour which she paid for. But disagreements between Dr. Ishmael and the Miss Muslimah organization arose, and a month before her reign was over she was informed that she was disqualified.

Contractual issues caused Rahma Mohamed, who was crowned the winner in 2019, and Miss Muslimah USA to part ways. Ms. Mohamed, a 17-year-old from Wisconsin who is studying mechanical engineering, was a semifinalist in the Miss Wisconsin Teen USA pageant and later went on to represent her state in Miss Teen World America. She was the first Muslim to place in the competition.

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