The Miss England Muslim finalist cruelly abused by trolls fires a passionate response to her enemies

Sara Iftekhar from Huddersfield, who was the first model to wear a hijab in a Miss England final

Sara Iftekhar could not win when she participated in the Miss England beauty contest last week. That does not mean that the dazzling 20-year law student does not deserve the title.

With her striking hazel eyes and impeccable complexion, she was as strong a contender for the crown and girdle as anyone.

But as the first Miss England finalist to wear the hijab – the handkerchief that many Muslim women wear to cover their hair for religious reasons – Sara is well aware that, when it came to public opinion, she would always lose.

Sara Iftekhar from Huddersfield, who was the first model to wear a hijab in a Miss England final

Sara Iftekhar from Huddersfield, who was the first model to wear a hijab in a Miss England final

Sara Iftekhar could not win when she participated in the Miss England beauty contest last week. That does not mean that the dazzling 20-year law student is not worthy of the title

Sara Iftekhar could not win when she participated in the Miss England beauty contest last week. That does not mean that the dazzling 20-year law student is not worthy of the title

Sara Iftekhar could not win when she participated in the Miss England beauty contest last week. That does not mean that the dazzling 20-year law student is not worthy of the title

"By entering this competition and being Pakistani, I was going to have a negative reaction anyway," he says. "If I had worn a little black dress and no hijab, I would have made people say: & # 39; Why do not you conceal yourself? This goes against your religion! But while wearing the hijab and wanted to cover me, I have people who say: Why are you covering yourself? This is a beauty contest. I can not please everyone. I am a pretty tough person, but some of the comments I received online have been atrocious.

"They say that they have forced me to wear the hijab and that my parents have made me use it." Believe me, once you have met me, you will know that I am not the kind of person you can do it to. nothing.

"It's my choice to use it and I did not do it to make any kind of comment, I'm just a normal girl from an ordinary family who wanted to participate in a beauty contest as something fun." I had no idea I was making history.

However, that is exactly what she has done. After reaching the top 50 in the 68th Miss England competition, of 22,000 contenders, Sara, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, slid down the catwalk in a long dress and headscarf.

While not participating in the optional bikini or the beautiful rounds of hair (she was not the only participant to abstain) she threw herself at the others.

Eager to move according to the times, competition has changed radically over the years. Competitors currently participate in sports, general knowledge and rounds of talents, among others.

Sara with other Miss England finalists in the round & # 39; echo & # 39;

Sara with other Miss England finalists in the round & # 39; echo & # 39;

Sara with other Miss England finalists in the round & # 39; echo & # 39;

As the first Miss England finalist to wear the hijab - the handkerchief that many Muslim women wear to cover their hair for religious reasons - Sara is well aware that, when it comes to public opinion, she was always going to lose

As the first Miss England finalist to wear the hijab - the handkerchief that many Muslim women wear to cover their hair for religious reasons - Sara is well aware that, when it comes to public opinion, she was always going to lose

While not participating in the optional bikini or the beautiful rounds of hair (she was not the only participant who abstained) she threw herself at the others

While not participating in the optional bikini or the beautiful rounds of hair (she was not the only participant who abstained) she threw herself at the others

As the first Miss England finalist to wear the hijab – the handkerchief that many Muslim women wear to cover their hair for religious reasons – Sara is well aware that, when it comes to public opinion, she was always going to lose

Sara raised money for charities, and still has burn marks with a glue gun after making her own "green dress" from trash bags and plastic straws, and a clutch from a KFC box, for the environmental round , to highlight the contamination of garbage.

He finally lost against Miss Newcastle, Alisha Cowie.

The majority of the audience applauded Sara and the organizers of Miss England for adding much-needed diversity to the still rather outdated procedures.

But others have argued that she should not participate in a traditional British beauty pageant if she is not ready to "show" her physical attributes.

Others were downright rude and racist. "I guess he'll win," he mocked before the final. & # 39; Checked box & # 39;

Most viewers applauded Sara and the organizers of Miss England for adding much-needed diversity to the still-outdated procedures

Most viewers applauded Sara and the organizers of Miss England for adding much-needed diversity to the still-outdated procedures

Most viewers applauded Sara and the organizers of Miss England for adding much-needed diversity to the still-outdated procedures

Most viewers applauded Sara and the organizers of Miss England for adding much-needed diversity to the still-outdated procedures

Most viewers applauded Sara and the organizers of Miss England for adding much-needed diversity to the still-outdated procedures

"It's crazy," says Sara. "On the one hand, people call me a pioneer and a role model, but I'm just me, using what I always carry.

"If a woman wants to walk in a bikini or a vest and jeans, then, well in her." I do not want to do that, but I'm not going to stop anyone else. So, why do people feel the need to stop me wearing a hijab?

"Others argue that, because I was wearing a hijab, I was pushed by the competition and it was favoritism, but other girls have worn the hijab in the past and never made it to the finals, so what do they mean?

The use of the hijab is still a hot topic in the United Kingdom, and the temperature rises several degrees each time former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson opens his mouth. More recently, she said that women who wear full-veil niqabs look like mailboxes or bank robbers, causing a stir.

A third generation of British Muslims, Sara was born and raised in Huddersfield. She lives with her parents Iftekhar, 51, sales manager of a chemical products company, and Sadia, 46, a full-time mother

A third generation of British Muslims, Sara was born and raised in Huddersfield. She lives with her parents Iftekhar, 51, sales manager of a chemical products company, and Sadia, 46, a full-time mother

A third generation of British Muslims, Sara was born and raised in Huddersfield. She lives with her parents Iftekhar, 51, sales manager of a chemical products company, and Sadia, 46, a full-time mother

The white, middle-aged conservative men who harass Muslim women they have never seen in what they should wear, is clearly something Sara is tired of talking about.

"All I will say is that it is the right of every woman to choose what she uses," he declares, and the matter is closed.

A third generation of British Muslims, Sara was born and raised in Huddersfield. She lives with her parents Iftekhar, 51, sales manager of a chemical products company, and Sadia, 46, a full-time mother.

Her brother Hassan, 24, nutritionist (who accompanies her in our interview and photo shoot) and her sisters Aishah, 22, and optometrist, and Aminah, 14, also share the Victorian four-bedroom house in a leafy Middle class village area.

His childhood was "normal, natural and happy," she says, and sounds as British as fish and chips. She had day trips to the Lake District, and confesses to worshiping Sunday roasts, afternoon tea with buns and The Great British Bake Off.

His childhood was "normal, natural and happy," says Sara, and sounds as British as fish and chips. She had day trips to the Lake District, and confesses to worshiping Sunday roasts, afternoon tea with buns and The Great British Bake Off

His childhood was "normal, natural and happy," says Sara, and sounds as British as fish and chips. She had day trips to the Lake District, and confesses to worshiping Sunday roasts, afternoon tea with buns and The Great British Bake Off

His childhood was "normal, natural and happy," says Sara, and sounds as British as fish and chips. She had day trips to the Lake District, and confesses to worshiping Sunday roasts, afternoon tea with buns and The Great British Bake Off

His childhood was "normal, natural and happy," says Sara, and sounds as British as fish and chips. She had day trips to the Lake District, and confesses to worshiping Sunday roasts, afternoon tea with buns and The Great British Bake Off

His childhood was "normal, natural and happy," says Sara, and sounds as British as fish and chips. She had day trips to the Lake District, and confesses to worshiping Sunday roasts, afternoon tea with buns and The Great British Bake Off

When it comes to her religion of Islam, she says that her family is liberal. "Islam is not the way it is portrayed, it's about goodness," he continues. "We are a progressive family that has important values ​​for our religion and our roots, but we are open minded and up to date.

"We pray and fast in the month of Ramadan." But being a Muslim is not just about praying, it's about being nice, having good intentions, giving to charity & # 39;

A self-proclaimed "two-legged girl", she earned mostly As and A * s on her exams, and started studying law at Huddersfield University two years ago.

A self-proclaimed "two-legged girl", she earned mostly As and A * s on her exams, and started studying law at Huddersfield University two years ago.

A self-proclaimed "two-legged girl", she earned mostly As and A * s on her exams, and started studying law at Huddersfield University two years ago.

A self-proclaimed "two-legged girl", she earned mostly As and A * s on her exams, and started studying law at Huddersfield University two years ago.

Fortunately, and perhaps a little surprising in the current climate, it seems that until the events of last week, it has been protected from racism. Living in an area with very few Asians, she says she has friends from school and college from all cultures.

"Mom and Dad have always taught us that we are the same as everyone else, so I never thought about a) being Asian or b) wearing a hijab, and I had never experienced any racism before," he says.

"Even my mother and father, who grew up in Britain in the 1970s, have never experienced any, or if they have, they have never told us.

"My belief is that if I am respectful of others, they give me back respect, there have been some trolling but I am ignoring them and focusing on the positive." Mom and Dad have warned me that I will never be everyone's cup of tea. Sound warning.

At the age of 16, Sara's entrepreneurial spirit, which she says belongs to the family, saw her establish an online clothing store with the help of her parents.

At the age of 16, Sara's entrepreneurial spirit, which she says belongs to the family, saw her establish an online clothing store with the help of her parents.

At the age of 16, Sara's entrepreneurial spirit, which she says belongs to the family, saw her establish an online clothing store with the help of her parents.

His love for all things, fashion and beauty began at an early age. & # 39; I was a female girl. I trotted around the house in my mother's high heels and played with her makeup, "she says.

"Apparently I would say:" Well, I'm ready for my photography. "So I've always been a little bit guilty." When I got a part-time job at the Lancome booth counter, I learned how to apply makeup so adequate, what I loved. "

At the age of 16, Sara's entrepreneurial spirit, which she says belongs to the family, saw her establish an online clothing store with the help of her parents.

Sara is 4 years old (left) with her brother Hassan and her sister Aishah

Sara is 4 years old (left) with her brother Hassan and her sister Aishah

Sara is 4 years old (left) with her brother Hassan and her sister Aishah

"They always congratulated me on my traditional Asian clothes and people asked me where I got them from, so I set up an online store," he says.

"I earned a lot of money for a while, but my education is very important, that's my father's fault, his parents died at an early age, so he never went to college, his philosophy has always been to do what you want with your life, but if you have a title, you can always turn to it. "

Sara started wearing her hijab at an age similar to Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain, who began to find religion at age 14. Sara used her for the first time around age 15 for personal reasons.

"I love wearing the hijab," he continues. "For some people it's just a fashion statement, but for me it's more than that, I feel like they're more likely to respect me if I wear a hijab, and it's about how I wear it.

Sara started wearing her hijab at an age similar to Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain, who began to find religion at age 14. Sara used her for the first time around age 15 for personal reasons.

Sara started wearing her hijab at an age similar to Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain, who began to find religion at age 14. Sara used her for the first time around age 15 for personal reasons.

Sara started wearing her hijab at an age similar to Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain, who began to find religion at age 14. Sara used her for the first time around age 15 for personal reasons.

Sara started wearing her hijab at an age similar to Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain, who began to find religion at age 14. Sara used her for the first time around age 15 for personal reasons.

Sara started wearing her hijab at an age similar to Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain, who began to find religion at age 14. Sara used her for the first time around age 15 for personal reasons.

"Some people ask how I can use a & # 39; for modesty & # 39; and participate in a beauty contest, but it's about how modesty is defined.For me, I kept my modesty by not participating in the beautiful hair or round beach body.

"My mother wears a hijab, but it's a misconception that Muslim women have to wear one, and no one in my family made me wear it, it's my choice.

"Mom and Dad have not done anything but support me. They are the loudest in the crowd in these competitions. Do you think I would be taking part in Miss England if it were not like that? It's not something you can do behind your parents' backs!

The decision to participate in the Miss Yorkshire competition, which led her to be in Miss England, was a stimulus of the moment.

The decision to participate in the Miss Yorkshire competition, which led her to be in Miss England, was a stimulus of the moment

The decision to participate in the Miss Yorkshire competition, which led her to be in Miss England, was a stimulus of the moment

The decision to participate in the Miss Yorkshire competition, which led her to be in Miss England, was a stimulus of the moment

"When I submitted the application, I thought I would not even be accepted," he says. "But I am an adventurous person and I thought I would try it." I did not think about what I would use at that moment. When I told my family, they told me: "Yes, go ahead." To be honest, they did not really look up for what they were doing. "

"Then, a couple of days later, I received an email to say that I had been selected, I told my parents and they were very supportive, they trust me, they know I will never humiliate them by participating in a bikini or something style.

She admits that she was naive when she appeared in the competition. "It just occurred to me that there were no other Asian girls," he says.

"But many of the other women had done a lot of beauty contests before and I thought, 'OK, I'm going to go with this and have a good time.' When it came to the Little Black Dress round, I did not think in telling anyone that I was going to wear my long dress and hijab, I just keep going with that. "

To her surprise, Sara won the Miss popularity round after hundreds of people voted her online. It meant that she would automatically go to the quarterfinals of Miss England.

To her surprise, Sara won the Miss popularity round after hundreds of people voted her online. It meant that she would automatically go to the quarterfinals of Miss England

To her surprise, Sara won the Miss popularity round after hundreds of people voted her online. It meant that she would automatically go to the quarterfinals of Miss England

To her surprise, Sara won the Miss popularity round after hundreds of people voted her online. It meant that she would automatically go to the quarterfinals of Miss England

To her surprise, Sara won the Miss popularity round after hundreds of people voted her online. It meant that she would automatically go to the quarterfinals of Miss England

To her surprise, Sara won the Miss popularity round after hundreds of people voted her online. It meant that she would automatically go to the quarterfinals of Miss England

That's the time I had a couple of wobbles. It was my mother and my sister who encouraged me to continue, "she says.

"My parents always say that there are certain moments in your life when you only have one chance, and you should always take it with both hands, but I never thought it would go that far.

Online trolling does not seem to embarrass her. "It's a minority of people and I ignore it," he says. & # 39; I receive many more messages from around the world that support me.

"I've had young people tell me that I'm a role model, they say:" You're so brave to get on a platform and do what you're doing, and to be honest with yourself. "A girl even made a presentation about me at school. "

Sara has an Instagram account that has been gaining popularity every day since the competition, and several companies have asked her to wear her outfits.

Sara has an Instagram account that has been gaining popularity every day since the competition, and several companies have asked her to wear her outfits.

Sara has an Instagram account that has been gaining popularity every day since the competition, and several companies have asked her to wear her outfits.

But she notices that she does not think of herself as a role model. "I remember seeing the model Halima Aden with a hijab on the catwalk and thinking that she was a role model, but now people say the same thing about me.

"Now I realize that a Muslim wearing a hijab is not common in a beauty contest, and I do not fit into what is a certain type of beauty.

& # 39; Receive comments as & # 39; She's ugly, but that does not hurt at all. Everyone has their own definition of beauty and I realize that many modeling agencies are increasingly diverse with models of large sizes and different skin colors. "

For now, he intends to concentrate on his studies, but does not want to lose the momentum that he has accumulated by participating in the competition.

For now, he intends to concentrate on his studies, but does not want to lose the momentum that he has accumulated by participating in the competition.

For now, he intends to concentrate on his studies, but does not want to lose the momentum that he has accumulated by participating in the competition.

For now, he intends to concentrate on his studies, but does not want to lose the momentum that he has accumulated by participating in the competition.

For now, he intends to concentrate on his studies, but does not want to lose the momentum that he has accumulated by participating in the competition.

Leaving aside race and religion, do you think beauty contests objectify women? "I do not consider myself a feminist, but today's beauty contests are not just about being a pretty face and you will not get far in these competitions if you're a bad or nasty person: they'll see directly through you," she says. He says.

Sara has an Instagram account that has been gaining popularity every day since the competition, and several companies have asked her to wear her outfits.

She also attracted admirers. "My God, my brother is listening to this," he laughs. "Yes, I've had several men who congratulate me, but I do not have a boyfriend, again for religious reasons. I'm only 20 years old, but who knows in the future?

"I want to be a role model, not only for Muslim women, but for any woman who thinks she can not participate in a beauty contest because of her weight, height, religion or whatever," says Sara.

"My parents have always told me that I can have a relationship with whomever I choose." They've always been open-minded about it. They say, "If you like someone, then tell us, do not hide it." But personally, I would not mind having an arranged marriage like they did.

& # 39; Once again, it is not a forced thing. It is simply an introduction to someone I would like and it worked for mom and dad; They are very happy ".

For now, he intends to concentrate on his studies, but does not want to lose the momentum that he has accumulated by participating in the competition.

"I want to be a role model, not only for Muslim women, but for any woman who thinks she can not participate in a beauty contest because of her weight, height, religion or whatever.

& # 39; I'm here to say that you can if you want. You must be a strong person who does not get upset by what others say. But do not let it hold you back. "

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