Esma Voloder, Australia’s first Muslim Miss World Australia, has faced a torrent of attacks for being Muslim.
According to Miss World Australia’s national director, the organisation has been ‘bombarded’ with calls and messages for ‘letting a Muslim win’.
“We have had lots of calls, people saying terrible things,” Deborah Miller, the national director of Miss World Australia, said to the Daily Telegraph.
“People have said: ‘How did you let a Muslim win?’. We believe Esma is a strong woman and represents a multicultural Australia.”
Responding to the criticism, Voloder said she hoped to break down barriers and the ignorance of her critics.
“I forgive them … I feel it comes from a lack of understanding,” said Voloder, according to the Daily Telegraph.
“I am hoping to break down the barriers by just being me.”
Who is Voloder
Voloder, 25, was born in a refugee camp following the Bosnian war before migrating to Melbourne, Australia with her family as a child.
“I want [Australians] to know we’re just people,” said Voloder following her victory to an Australian television channel when asked about being a former refugee.
“We’re people from around the world, and obviously there has to be quite a strong reason for people to need to leave their country.”
Asked about being a Muslim, Voloder said that Islam is often misconstrued in statements to the Daily Mail.
“A lot of things have been misconstrued about Islam,” said Voloder, who works as a criminal profiler, to the Daily Mail.
“‘I feel that a category has been created that is not really what the Quran actually promotes. I believe Islam is about peace, unity, prosperity and inclusion.”