Afghan Court Condemns Beauty Pageant

The Afghan Supreme Court on Wednesday condemned a woman who is competing as Miss Afghanistan at a beauty pageant, saying such a display of the female body goes against Islamic law and Afghan culture.

Vida Samadzai, 23, is competing in the Miss Earth competition in Manila, Philippines, and last she wore a red bikini during a public appearance by contestants ahead of the Nov. 9 judging.

She is the first Afghan to participate in the annual contest.

Samadzai reportedly left her home country for the United States in the mid-1990s and has said she is competing in the pageant to show the world a different image of Afghan women — many of whom still wear all-covering burka robes here despite the fall of the hard-line Taliban regime nearly two years ago.

But at a meeting of the Afghan high court shown Wednesday on state TV, judges condemned Samadzai's appearance.

"Women who show their bodies without clothes in front of people are completely against Shariah (Islamic) law, against Islam and against the culture of the Afghan people," the court said, according to the report.

The court said it had made the statement — the first public condemnation of Samadzai by Afghan officials — after repeated media inquiries about her appearance. Samadzai's participation in the contest hasn't been publicized in Afghanistan, where most of the impoverished population lacks access to outside media.