20-year-old Muslim Sara Iftekhar could not win when she took part in the Miss England beauty pageant last week. Worthy of the renowned title, the law student with her beautiful hazel eyes and flawless complexion was as strong a contender for the crown as any.
But as the first Miss England finalist to wear the hijab — the headscarf many Muslim women wear to cover their hair for religious reasons — Sara is keenly aware that when it came to public opinion, she was always going to lose.
While speaking to Haroon Shahid from BBC Asian Network, Sara stated, “I didn’t expect any of this. It came overnight as a shock. There’s backlash too. However, the amount of amazing and positive messages I’ve received is actually unreal.”
She added, that to be told that “you’re an inspiration” when you think of yourself as “just another girl or law student” is strange. But, Sara still feels honoured.
When questioned about the scarf, Sara replied, “Hijab is a beautiful thing. At the end of the day, you get to show what you want the outer community to see. I think if you can get to the stage where I got, with keeping myself modest and staying true to myself, it just goes to show that you don’t need to dress half naked to get attention.”