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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 December 2005, 15:28 GMT
History made by UK Muslim model
Hammasa Kohistani
Miss Kohistani was discovered travelling on the Tube
A teenager who fled the Taleban regime has made history by being the first Muslim to represent England in the Miss World beauty contest in China.

Hammasa Kohistani, 18, had been third favourite but Misses Iceland, Mexico and Puerto Rico were voted top three.

Islamic extremists had sent her death threats for taking part in the competition, watched by two billion.

Miss Kohistani, who was born in Uzbekistan, fled Afghanistan with her parents in 1996.

She went to the UK via Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Dubai.

So many people from so many nations have been interested in my progress, because I am not what was expected
Hammasa Kohistani

She recalls seeking cover in her Kabul apartment block, as a child, when it came under attack from bombs and bullets.

On arriving in Britain, Miss Kohistani's father Khushal set up a takeaway food business while her mother Layla worked as an interpreter.

Spotted on the London Underground at the age of 14, the A-level student speaks six languages and has modelled for Gap and Superdrug.

She has also been offered a part in a Bollywood film.

Miss Kohistani said: "This is a real life fairy story that couldn't happen in any other country.

"So many people from so many nations have been interested in my progress, because I am not what was expected."

Miss Iceland, Unnur Birna Vilhjalmsdottir
Miss Iceland was crowned the overall winner

Among those Miss Kohistani beat to the Miss England crown was another Muslim entrant, Sarah Mendly, 23, who was voted Miss Nottingham.

Miss Mendly had been among the favourites but Liverpool's Islamic institute called on her to pull out because contestants are often scantily clad.

A total of 102 contestants are in the Miss World final - now in its 55th year - including Miss Wales Claire Evans, 22, and 23-year-old Miss Scotland Aisling Friel.

Nigeria hosted Miss World three years ago and around 250 people died in riots after a journalist infuriated Muslims by suggesting the Prophet Mohammed might approve of the contest.

On Saturday Unnur Birna Vilhjalmsdottir, Miss Iceland, was crowned Miss World 2005.

The runner-up was Miss Mexico, Dafne Molina Lona, while Miss Puerto Rico, Ingrid Marie Rivera Santos, came third.

Anger over Muslim beauty entrant
02 Sep 05 |  Nottinghamshire

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