- Title: FRANCE: Coastal city of Marseille hosts Miss Maghreb beauty contest
- Date: 11th May 2009
- Summary: SPECTATOR PHOTOGRAPHING CYNTHIA SEKIOU (SOUNDBITE) (French) CYNTHIA SEKIOU, WINNER, SAYING "I am in the clouds, I cannot believe it. I hope they did not make a mistake. I am speechless and full of emotion." RACHEL LEGRAINE-TRAPANI WITH JOURNALISTS
- Embargoed: 26th May 2009 13:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVACDGTDBN6T7PSY9V20QNWMEHPX
- Story Text: Finalists of a beauty contest in the southern French city of Marseille share at least one thing in common - the French girls have origins in North African countries, including Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
On Saturday (May 9), 17 finalists of the Miss Maghreb beauty pageant appeared in front of audience and judges to compete for the crown of Miss Franco-Maghrebine.
President of the Miss Maghreb competition, Jamila Ben Abdelhalfit, said the contest was created to honour the North African heritage of many French girls.
"This competition is designed to show, why not Franco-Maghrebine girls? They are lovely, and their origins should not be held against them.
They are French with origins in North Africa. We cannot ask them to change their names or ancestors just to get a job or to be cast in a role such as this. Sometimes they feel discriminated against because of their origins," Jamila Ben Abdelhalfit said.
Some 1,000 contestants were selected from across France in the fall of 2008, and practised every Saturday since November for the big night in Marseille.
Contestants were required to be French with North African ancestors, between the ages of 17 and 25, at least 1.68 meters (5 feet 5 inches) tall, and weigh no more than 69 kilograms (152 pounds).
The contestants competed in classic evening and wedding wear as well as in the traditional dress of the countries they represent.
Twenty one-year-old Cynthia Sekiou, of Algerian origin, was crowned Miss Franco-Maghrebine.
"I am in the clouds, I cannot believe it. I hope they did not make a mistake. I am speechless and full of emotion," said the winner.
Rachel Legraine-Trapani, who was crowned Miss France in 2007, said: "These girls are being judged and it is not easy, when you are a young girl full of doubt. You are afraid of doing poorly or falling down in these shoes and dresses. It is a lot of work. That is why I congratulate them all because they have done a great job tonight."
The new Miss Maghreb, Sekiou, will have the right to participate in the next Miss France competition.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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