Friday, December 10, 2010

Miss Baghdad Beauty Pageant

(Baghdad, Iraq) During the three decades of Ba'ath Party rule in Iraq, there was no beauty pageant. Now there is. Video runs 2:49.

Pretty girls, eh?

The contest was held at the Hunting Club, a members-only establishment for Baghdad's elite.
Many of those gathered, such as Samara Mohammed, 23, a secretary and contestant who had fled the country to live in Germany, only returned in May this year.

"The security has improved and we hope it will get more and more. It's a nice thing that I am here. All my friends and family are supporting me," she said.

The five judges, who would vote for Miss Hunting Club, included a cigar smoking Tony Soprano-type and a chain-smoking female MP. They quizzed the contestants on their education and employment. In a scene unthinkable just a year ago, Shamss Tallal, an elfin 18-year-old, drew whistles of approval from the audience during the question and answer stage.

"She is very beautiful," said 20-year-old Salwan, his friend Hussain, also 20, red-faced with excitement. He clutched his chest and mimed his heart beating faster, as he looked at her longingly.

"I don't know her, but she is the most popular," a third friend, Ahmad, 19, said.

Miss Talla later won the contest, with a straw poll of audience members revealing she was also the people's choice.
In attendance was the popular Iraqi singer, Kassim Al-Sultan, who just recently returned to Iraq from exile.
"Iraq is like a person who has undergone surgery and is now recovering," he said.
The Hunting Club was a favorite party place for Saddam Hussein's son Uday, who liked to steal other men's wives there. Uday also reportedly murdered people at the Hunting Club if they upset him.

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