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Muslim Miss England finalist Sara Iftekhar on ‘atrocious’ abuse she received from cruel online trolls

The 20-year-old said she knew her decision to wear the hijab could prove divisive

MUSLIM Sara Iftekhar has spoken of the “atrocious” abuse she received after becoming the first woman to wear a hijab in the finals of Miss England.

The law student, 20, from Huddersfield, was applauded by many for bringing some diversity to the beauty contest, while others have argued she shouldn’t take part if she’s not prepared to “show off” her body.

Sara, who is currently single, said deciding whether or not to wear the hijab – the the headscarf many Muslim women wear to cover their hair for religious reasons – was always going to be divisive.

She told the Daily Mail: “Going into this competition and being Pakistani, either way I was going to get a backlash. If I'd worn a little black dress and no hijab, I'd have had people say: 'Why aren't you covering yourself up? This is against your religion!'
“But as I wore the hijab and wanted to cover up, I've got people saying: 'Why are you covering yourself? This is a beauty contest.' I can't please everyone.
“I'm quite a tough person but some of the comments I've received online have been atrocious. They say I've been 'forced' to wear the hijab and that my parents have made me wear it. Believe me, once you've met me, you'll know that I'm not the sort of person who can be made to do anything.”

Sara, who has been wearing the hijab since the age of 15, said she didn't wear it on the catwalk to "make any kind of point".

She beat 22,000 hopefuls to reach the top 50 in the 68th Miss England competition. She wowed on the runway in silver full-length gown with fluted sleeves and a dark grey headscarf.

Sara chose not to participate in the optional bikini or beautiful hair rounds – but she wasn't the only contestant to abstain.

She eventually lost out on the title to Miss Newcastle, Alisha Cowie.

Sara posted a selfie in July with a trophy after being crowned Miss Huddersfield and captioned the pic: "Wowwwwwww!!!!

"I can’t even comprehend how amazing it felt for my name to be announced as a finalist in the Miss England Finals 2018! Alhamdullilah.

"It was an incredible experience and something which I will never be able to forget.

"The opportunities which I have received with being a finalist in Miss England are opportunities which I would never have thought of and will forever be grateful for."

Last year's winner Stephanie Hill had competed three times before finally being crowned.

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