Muslim model defends Miss Universe contest bid
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Page last updated at 00:15 GMT, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 01:15 UK
By Anthony Baxter
Newsbeat reporter Shanna Bukhari wants to be the first Muslim to represent the UK in Miss Universe
A model bidding to become the first Muslim to represent the UK in the world final of Miss Universe has been defending her decision to enter.
Shanna Bukhari, who is 24 and lives in Manchester, said she's been sent racist and abusive messages since making it to the beauty contest's UK final.
She believes Muslims in the UK should be allowed to have a western lifestyle.
But Muslim groups have accused her of disrespecting Islam.
Shanna was born in Blackburn and she became a full-time model after finishing her degree.
She said it's her dream to be crowned Miss Universe but has been told she's going against her religion.
"[I get] comments like, 'You're not a Muslim because you're doing this' and it's like, this competition does not make me a bad Muslim at all.
"So it does hurt me to think that people are thinking like that," she said.
One of the main reasons some Muslims are angry is that Shanna would have to appear in swimwear in one round of the competition.
Mohammed Shafiq is from the Ramadhan Foundation, a group that works with young Muslims in the UK. He's against Shanna taking part.
"Islam is very clear that a woman should dress modestly and we do not believe that parading yourself in a bikini is appropriate," he said.
We are clear that we find what she's doing distasteful - lots of women find these competitions degradingMohammed Shafiq Ramadhan Foundation
Shanna Bukhari responds to criticism
"We are clear that we find what she's doing distasteful. Lots of women find these [competitions] degrading."
He said he accepts the right for Muslim women to wear whatever they choose, but that those living in a western country should still be respectful of Islam.
"We celebrate individual freedom but to suggest that someone who is opposed to something she's doing needs to move off to another country is quite offensive," he continued.
Shanna said most people do support her, including her family in Pakistan and that she won't be wearing a bikini but a one-piece and a sarong.
But her older sister Sameera admitted some of the abusive comments have worried her.
"Is it going to be bricks and stones next when she's walking out on the street? People thinking, 'Oh look at her, she's a Pakistani and she's entering this competition'."
If Shanna wins the UK final on 1 May, she'll be the first ever Muslim to represent Britain in the grand final in Brazil later this year.