A 24-year-old British Muslim woman, who entered the qualifying rounds of the Miss Universe contest, has reportedly received death threats on charges of denigrating Islam, a media report said on Sunday.
Shanna Bukhari, a Pakistani-origin woman, wanted to be the first Muslim to represent the United Kingdom in a global beauty pageant but has been subjected to a flood of online hate messages, reports the Press Trust of India (PTI),quoting the Guardian.
“I have felt in fear for my life and have contacted a private security firmto protect me,” said the Manchester-based English literature graduate.
The threats began after a local newspaper ran an article 10 days ago,revealing her ambition to become the first Muslim to represent Great Britain atthe beauty contest.
The censure has come from various quarters, ranging from Muslims who claim that she is denigrating the name of Islam, to white supremacists who say that anAsian cannot represent the United Kingdom, and to women who condemn beauty pageants as an affront to feminism, the newspaper reported.
Since then, she has received around 300 messages a day on her Facebook page,a handful of which are abusive. The attacks escalated last week when Bukhari received her first death threat.
Most of the negative comments have come from a minority of Muslim men.
One Facebook message calls her a “dirty Muslim” and asks why she is representing Britain “when you don’t even belong here”.
Bukhari said: “I actually replied to him in a very calm manner because I’m not one to retaliate. My family taught me to rationalise rather than react. Then I thought ‘why can’t I represent Britain?’ I was born here and am proud to beBritish. My parents are from Pakistan but I am not going to represent Pakistan as this is my country.”
Bukhari accuses her abusers of having the same sort of mindset as those who support “honour” killings and beat women.
Many of the comments are, she says, from individuals who want syariah law instead of a liberal democracy.
She fears that Britain’s Miss Universe finals in Birmingham in May will also be a target: “It worries me that haters will turn up. I know what they arecapable of.”
During last month’s semi-final for Britain’s Miss Universe candidate Bukhari received the most public votes.
Britain has never won the title.
It is increasingly possible that its first victor might also be its first Muslim representative.
Support for the beauty has, however, poured in from Spain, the Middle East, Pakistan, India and China.