Muslim Model Wants to Be Miss Italy

A model of Moroccan origin who hopes to become the first Muslim Miss Italy has vowed to defy critics who accuse her of insulting Islam by taking part in the beauty pageant.

Ahlam El Brinis, 20, who was born in the northern Veneto region to Moroccan parents, has received threats and insults on social media for her decision to participate in the contest next month. She has been criticized for posing in bikinis, lacy underwear and revealing clothes, with some Muslims accusing her of bringing Islam into disrepute.

But she has labelled her critics “ridiculous people with too much time on their hands” and said she has drawn strength from the support of her grandmother back in Morocco, who told her “religion is in the heart, not in the choice of clothes you wear.” “There have been insults but there have been far more messages of encouragement, both from friends and people I have never met,” the model told La Repubblica newspaper. “Religion should have nothing to do with a beauty contest.”