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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 September 2005, 00:25 GMT 01:25 UK
First Muslim Miss England crowned
Hammasa Kohistani
Miss Kohistani was born in Tashkent after her parents fled Afghanistan
A teenager who was born in Uzbekistan has become the first Muslim beauty contestant to be crowned Miss England.

Hammasa Kohistani, 18, said she was "happy to make history" and was looking forward to representing England in the Miss World championships in China.

She was born in Tashkent, central Uzbekistan, after her parents were forced to flee Afghanistan.

The brunette, who speaks six languages including Russian and Persian, was selected from 40 contestants.

She was crowned on Saturday night following the two-day competition at Liverpool's Olympia Theatre.

I'm making history and I'm very happy
Hammasa Kohistani

Dressed in an ivory white chiffon and silk ball gown designed and made by her mother, the teenager spoke of her joy at winning the title.

"When they announced that I had won I thought I had misheard. I hoped they hadn't, but it took a second to sink in."

Asked about her feelings at being the first Muslim Miss England, she said: "I'm making history and I'm very happy. Hopefully I won't be the last."

The student, who was known as Miss Maya after the Asian fashion house which sponsored her, has also been offered a part in a forthcoming Bollywood movie.

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

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

The Miss World championships will be held in December.




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