Muslimah World competition challenges Miss World

Updated 19 September 2013

Muslimah World competition challenges Miss World

JAKARTA: Muslim women in head scarf and elaborately embroidered dresses took to the stage Wednesday for the finale of a beauty pageant in Indonesia, a riposte to the Miss World contest that has sparked anger.
The 20 contestants began the Muslimah World show by elegantly descending a flight of stairs into public view — all covered head to toe wearing shimmering and sparkling materials.
While the women, from six countries, will be assessed on their appearance the judges are also looking at piety and Islamic knowledge and skills, such as recitation of the Qur’an.
All contestants must wear head scarves in their daily lives.
“We’re just trying to show the world that Islam is beautiful,” Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola, a 21-year-old contestant from Nigeria, told AFP backstage in the capital, Jakarta, before the final got under way.
“We are free and the hijab is our pride,” she said, adding that the pageant was “nothing like Miss World, where women expose their bodies.”
Organizers say they want to show Muslim women there is an alternative to the idea of beauty put forward by the British-run Miss World pageant, and also want to show that opposition to the event can be expressed non-violently.
Eka Shanti, who founded the pageant three years ago after losing her job as a TV news anchor for refusing to remove her head scarf, bills the contest as “an answer to Miss World.”
“This year we deliberately held our event just before the Miss World final to show that there are alternative role models for Muslim women,” she told AFP.
“But it’s about more than Miss World. Muslim women are increasingly working in the entertainment industry in a sexually explicit way, and they become role models, which is a concern.”
Hosted by Dewi Sandra, an Indonesian actress and pop star who recently hung up her racy dresses for a head scarf, the pageant began with a choral performance of a song about modesty, one the traits judges will be looking for in the winner.
While the contestants looked glamorous, the venue, the exhibition hall of a shopping mall, was a far cry from the likely lavish setting of the Miss World final on Bali.
And the pageant, which features Indonesian Islamic designer wear and popular bands, is a starkly different way of protesting Miss World than the approach taken other elements. Thousands have taken to the streets in Indonesia in recent weeks to protest Miss World, denouncing the contest and burning effigies of the organizers.
Despite a pledge by organizers to drop the famous swimsuit round, anger was not appeased and the protest movement snowballed.
The government eventually bowed to pressure and ordered the whole three-week pageant be moved to the Hindu-majority island of Bali, where it opened on Sept. 8.
Later rounds and the Sept. 28 final were to be held in and around Jakarta.
More than 500 contestants competed in online rounds to get to the Muslimah World final in Indonesia, one of which involved the contenders comparing stories of how they came to wear the head scarf.
Contestants will retell these stories and answer questions from judges at the final, with the 20 women whittled down before a winner is crowned and awarded 25 million rupiah ($2,179) and trips to Makkah.


Merriam-Webster’s top word of 2020 not a shocker: pandemic

Updated 30 November 2020

Merriam-Webster’s top word of 2020 not a shocker: pandemic

  • ‘It’s probably the word by which we’ll refer to this period in the future’
  • The Merriam-Webster site has about 40 million unique monthly users and about 100 million monthly page views

NEW YORK: If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be?
Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster on Monday announced “pandemic” as its 2020 word of the year.
“That probably isn’t a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press.
“Often the big news story has a technical word that’s associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It’s probably the word by which we’ll refer to this period in the future,” he said.
The word took on urgent specificity in March, when the coronavirus crisis was designated a pandemic, but it started to trend up on Merriam-Webster.com as early January and again in February when the first US deaths and outbreaks on cruise ships occurred.
On March 11, when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, lookups on the site for pandemic spiked hugely. Site interest for the word has remained significantly high through the year, Sokolowski said.
By huge, Sokolowski means searches for pandemic on March 11 were 115,806% higher than lookups experienced on the same date last year.
Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for people or population. The latter is the same root of “democracy,” Sokolowski noted. The word pandemic dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “universal” and more specifically to disease in a medical text in the 1660s, he said.
That was after the plagues of the Middle Ages, Sokolowski said.
He attributes the lookup traffic for pandemic not entirely to searchers who didn’t know what it meant but also to those on the hunt for more detail, or for inspiration or comfort.
“We see that the word love is looked up around Valentine’s Day and the word cornucopia is looked up at Thanksgiving,” Sokolowski said. “We see a word like surreal spiking when a moment of national tragedy or shock occurs. It’s the idea of dictionaries being the beginning of putting your thoughts in order.”
Merriam-Webster acted quickly in March to add and update entries on its site for words related to the pandemic. While “coronavirus” had been in the dictionary for decades, “COVID-19” was coined in February. Thirty-four days later, Merriam-Webster had it up online, along with a couple dozen other entries that were revised to reflect the health emergency.
“That’s the shortest period of time we’ve ever seen a word go from coinage to entry,” Sokolowski said. “The word had this urgency.”
Coronavirus was among runners up for word of the year as it jumped into the mainstream. Quarantine, asymptomatic, mamba, kraken, defund, antebellum, irregardless, icon, schadenfreude and malarkey were also runners up based on lookup spikes around specific events.
Particularly interesting to word nerds like Sokolowski, a lexicographer, is quarantine. With Italian roots, it was used during the Black Death of the 1300s for the period of time a new ship coming into port would have to wait outside a city to prevent disease. The “quar” in quarantine derives from 40, for the 40 days required.
Spikes for mamba occurred after the January death of Kobe Bryant, whose nickname was the Black Mamba. A mass of lookups occurred for kraken in July after Seattle’s new National Hockey League franchise chose the mythical sea monster as its name, urged along by fans.
Country group Lady Antebellum’s name change to Lady A drove dictionary interest in June, while malarkey got a boost from President-elect Joe Biden, who’s fond of using the word. Icon was front and center in headlines after the deaths of US Rep. John Lewis and US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
The Merriam-Webster site has about 40 million unique monthly users and about 100 million monthly page views.