Muslims Debate

Womens Rights   |   07 Sep 2010
3 Muslim girls win beauty contest in Switzerland, Miss Neuchâtel

Three Muslim girls won the Miss Neuchâtel competition in the Fête des Vendanges (wine Harvest) festival in Switzerland, August 28. Yvan Perrin of the SVP party says this is an expression of political correctness in the canton.


Raïssa Somai, originally of Tunisia, and her two runners-up, Gjeneta Hasanaj of Kosovo and Houda Sabro of Morocco. The three say they are religious Muslims, but not practicing.

Their victory has caused a controversy, which disappoints them. "Religion has nothing to do with a beauty contest," says Raïssa.

Raïssa Somai was born in Bern, and has been living in Neuchâtel since she was 12. She wants to be a lawyer and joined the competition with her friends just for fun. She regularly visits her grandparents in Hammamet, Tunisia, and her hobbies include belly-dancing, which she says is in her blood. She doesn't eat pork, but otherwise lives like all other girls her age and goes on weekends to the disco in Neuchâtel.

Donia, her mother, is very proud of her daughter's victory. She was reluctant to see her Raïssa in a bikini, but says it's not a religious issue, but simply a motherly reflex.


François Matthey, the organizer of the evening, is upset about the commotion. Half the national football team is of foreign origins, and nobody pays that any attention, but with the beauty contests people try and pick a quarrel, he says. It's regrettable.

Gjeneta Hasanaj (19), runner-up, is a draftsman and civil engineer. In addition to volunteering in the fire brigade, she's a projectionist at the movie theater in Couvet and a member of the youth parliament in Neuchâtel. She says religion was always a strictly personal matter. "Everybody has their beliefs and their values. I never speak of it. Today we're speaking about three Muslims when we should simply be speaking about three pretty girls from Neuchâtel canton."

Houda Sabro (17), the other runner up, studies in the Bienne high-school. "I believe in God, there!" she says. A future schoolteacher, she often goes back to her family in Casablanca. She says the girls in Morocco dress more sexy than here. "I am a Muslim but I got to the beach in a bikini like my girlfriends. So much for stereotypes."

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