The latest Miss World Australia has been crowned, and she’s a Muslim woman and former Bosnian refugee.
Esma Voloder, 25, says as now-Queen of Australia (I think that’s how it works), she wants to promote Islam as a religion of “peace and inclusion”.
But the new Miss World Australia has already been inundated with hateful comments about how she doesn’t represent Australia – for those playing at home, that’s the same Australia that’s often described as the “immigrant nation”.
“I forgive them ... I feel it comes from a lack of understanding,” the 25-year-old said yesterday.
“I am hoping to break down the barriers by just being me.”
Miss World Australia national director Deborah Miller told The Daily Telegraph the organisation had been swamped with “awful and mean” calls demanding Voloder was replaced.
“We have had lots of calls, people saying terrible things,” Ms Miller said.
“People have said: ‘How did you let a Muslim win?’. We believe Esma is a strong woman and represents a multicultural Australia.”
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume most of the people calling were in no way invested in the pageant until now.
The criminal profiler has won the “beauty with a purpose” competition, which meant she volunteered and drew anime commissions to raise money for children’s charity Variety, as well as working in anti-bullying advocacy.
How thoroughly un-Australian. Eye-roll.
Speaking to The Morning Show, Voloder said being born in a refugee camp and having her parents work so hard to for her benefit has helped her “exercise my gratefulness for the fact that I have this opportunity that they didn’t.”
“I want [Australians] to know we’re just people,” she said of refugees.
“We’re people from around the world, and obviously there has to be quite a strong reason for people to need to leave their country.”
WATCH: The new Miss World Australia discuss what it means to be Muslim.
Obviously, being Muslim came into the interview and Larry Emdur questioned if beauty pageants fitted in with Islam.
“I’ve read the Qur’an and I follow it,” she explained.
“So everything that you see me do, and everything I’m passionate about is derived from what I understand the religion to be.”
Voloda has also spoken about how nuanced and diverse all faiths are, including Islam.
“A lot of things have been misconstrued about Islam,” she told The Daily Mail.
“I feel that a category has been created that is not really what the Quran actually promotes. I believe Islam is about peace, unity, prosperity and inclusion.”
If we’ve learned anything from this, it’s that you can be a beauty queen with dual citizenship so Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, if you’re still looking for work…