Maria Mahmood, 20, is a psychology student from Birmingham and also the first hijab-wearing Muslim to compete in the Miss England contest. She’s through to the semi-finals and plans to wear a burkini in the swimwear round. While a Muslim has been crowned Miss England in the past, Maria is the first hijab-wearer to take part.
She told the Mirror: “Muslims are associated with negative things like terrorism. I’m determined to do my bit to challenge those views.
Maria has the support of the friends, family and the wider Muslim community, however, she is well aware that her decision will be met by severe backlash from “old-timers”.
“But what I’m doing is empowering for Muslim women. I’m anticipating most people will back me.”
She also stated, “Obviously, I’m not going to parade on stage in a bikini as that is going against my religion and beliefs. I’ll wear a burkini.”
“It’s pretty rare for a Muslim woman to be in a beauty pageant but there’s nothing to stop us entering.” In fact, she added that when she entered, the organisers were delighted to have a hijab-wearing Muslim in the competition.
“They fast-tracked me through to the final where I competed against 30 girls and came second. I couldn’t believe it,” Maria said.
The Miss England semi-final will be held in Newark, Notts, in July. If she wins, she will compete in Miss World.