A model of Moroccan descent from a Muslim family, competing in the Miss Italy contest, faces criticism for bringing disgrace to Islam.
“Pageant hopeful Ahlam El Brinis has labelled negative commentators ‘ridiculous people with too much time on their hands’ after she received threats and insults on social media,” the Daily Mail reports. Many of the negative comments regard the scanty attire she has worn in the contest and in her modeling photos.
“There have been insults but there have been far more messages of encouragement, both from friends and people I have never met,” the model told La Repubblica newspaper. “Religion should have nothing to do with a beauty contest.”
“Everyone is free to choose and follow their religion in their own way,” El Brinis, 20, explained in an interview with The Local. “I am aware that there are more conservative people who might think that I am mistaken about what I do. But honestly that doesn’t interest me because I have my family’s support and that is enough for me.”
“Insults and threats don’t hurt me. I will follow my own path,” she added.
The model is a non-practicing Muslim who was born and raised in Northern Italy, near Venice. “My parents came to the Veneto region more than 20 years ago and I was born in Padua hospital. I went to a nursery school run by nuns, where my mum worked as a cook. My family is Muslim but they have always been guided by Western values.”
She does not even speak Arabic, the native tongue of Morocco.
“I love to cook Italian food. I wouldn’t know where to start if someone asked me to cook a Moroccan dish,” she said.
El Brinis dreamed of becoming Miss Italy after watching the contest as a six-year-old. She has already been named Miss Elegance in the pageant.
She wrote on her Facebook page: “I have never thought or said that my presence in [the] Miss Italy [contest] is a challenge to Islam. Never used this word, brought back to a title, only in a title of a newspaper [article]. I have full respect of Islam and of any religion. Like all the girls, I am [running for] Miss Italy just for fun. And to win the title.”
El Brinis will participate in the final qualifying round of the pageant next month at Jesolo, a resort town near Venice, according to The Telegraph.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth