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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Anger over Muslim beauty entrant
Sarah Mendly
Sarah Mendly says she will wear a sarong and a one-piece swimsuit
Muslim leaders have called on a British Iraqi woman to withdraw from the Miss England beauty contest.

Sarah Mendly, 23, the Miss Nottingham winner, is one of the favourites to take the national title in Liverpool.

But her place in this weekend's event has been condemned by the city's Islamic institute, which has branded the showing of naked flesh unlawful.

Miss Mendly said she will wear a sarong and a one-piece swimsuit instead of the traditional bikini.

The pharmaceutical sales rep has lived in England since her parents fled Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq in 1993.

She said: "I wanted to show that there are attractive British Iraqi girls who are proud of being both British and Iraqi.

"Some fanatics might say entering a beauty contest is wrong because you are putting yourself up to be judged by your physical appearance - but my family supports me."

I would like this girl to withdraw from the contest immediately
Dr Hashim Sulaiman, Liverpool Islamic Institute

But Dr Hashim Sulaiman, of the Liverpool Islamic Institute, said: "There is no way a Muslim girl should be playing any part in this competition because it is unlawful.

"The ladies in that contest are always very scantily-dressed and the only part of the body that should be on display are the face the hands and the feet.

"I would like this girl to withdraw from the contest immediately."

Miss Mendly, from Beeston, is currently leading a text ballot of 40 women all hoping to make the final 11 contestants who will take place in the grand final.

If she scoops the Miss England title she will travel to China for the Miss World contest in December.




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