Hamas balks at Miss Palestine contest


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Miss Palestine contest scheduled for later this month has drawn the ire of Hamas and other fundamentalist Islamic organizations.

Fifty-eight Palestinian women from the West Bank and from inside Israel will compete in the Dec. 26 contest, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported. Women from Gaza are unable to participate due to Palestinian political discord and Israel’s blockade of the territory.

Two hundred women aged 18-22 vied to be contestants.

The Trip Fashion Company is sponsoring the event, which will feature each of the contestants modeling four dresses — but not swimsuits, in deference to Muslim sensibilities, Ma’an reported. Judging will be on education, personality and beauty.

Some of the judges will come from the Palestinian Authority’s information and culture ministries, according to the news service.

In a statement, Hamas’ Culture Ministry in Gaza said the contest "is completely contradicting with the Palestinian values and traditions" and violates the current Palestinian status that is under the Israeli military occupation.

"Showing beautiful girls in front of the mass media and the audience while our people in Gaza are suffering and paying a high price due to the occupation is rejected and is considered as a blind imitation of the Western traditions," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry called on contest advisers to "stop it immediately."

The winner will receive a 10-day trip to Turkey and 10,000 Israeli shekels — about $2,650.

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