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Iraq Just Held Its First Beauty Pageant In More Than 40 Years

Shaymaa Abdelrahman is the country's first pageant winner since 1972.

On Saturday, Iraq held its first beauty pageant since 1972.

Karim Kadim / AP

The winner? Twenty-year-old Shaymaa Abdelrahman from the city of Kirkuk, who beat out seven other finalists to take the crown.

Karim Kadim / AP

There was no swimsuit contest in the pageant. Instead, the women competed in an evening wear competition and presented charity projects. Abdelrahman's platform is education, especially among refugee populations.

Karim Kadim / AP

The pageant was originally supposed to take place in October, but threats against it from religious fundamentalists and conservative groups within Iraq caused the contest to be delayed.

Several contestants backed out after receiving death threats.
Karim Kadim / AP

Several contestants backed out after receiving death threats.

Qassim will go on to compete in the Miss Universe competition in 2016.

"I'm very happy to see Iraq going forward," she told Agence France-Presse. "This event was huge and put a smile on the faces of the Iraqis."
Karim Kadim / AP

"I'm very happy to see Iraq going forward," she told Agence France-Presse. "This event was huge and put a smile on the faces of the Iraqis."

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