Khadija Ben Hamou has just made history by becoming the first black woman to be crowned Miss Algeria.
Ben Hamou, who was named the winner on Saturday, January 5, 2019, edged out 16 other contestants to earn the coveted crown in a contest that allowed veiled candidates to compete for the first time.
“I am very pleased to have the title and I hope to be in good shape and my goal is to do charity work,” said Ben Hamou, who hails from the southern region of the country.
Her win has already elicited mixed reactions on social media with many Algerians churning out racist comments at the newly-crowned queen. A number of users on social media made fun of her features, claiming that she was not beautiful enough to be their representative.
Such racist reactions are not a surprise considering the constant marginalisation and discrimination of black Algerians in the country.
The organisers of the Miss Algeria beauty pageant have spoken out after its newly-crowned winner has been the victim of racist abuse online.
Not long after Khadija Ben Hamou beat 16 other contestants to take the Miss Algeria 2019 crown on Saturday, making history to become the first black woman to win the contest, she became the victim of a number of vile online comments, with trolls targeting her for her appearance and skin colour.
The organisers of the pageant have spoken out to condemn the online trolls.
In statement released on the official Miss Algeria Facebook page, organisers said: “The Miss Algeria organisation deplores the racist behaviour and comments of several people.”
Speaking in an interview on Algerian television, Khadija said she did not let trolls get to her.
“I do not look at social networks,” she said. “May God show the way to those who criticise me and preserve those who encourage me.”
Plenty of people were quick to jump to Khadija’s defence in the face of the racist comments, praising the diversity of this year’s competition and congratulating her on her win.
Writing on Facebook, one user said: “If I understand correctly, you want a miss algeria that looks like a Swedish!? It’s one of the charms of our diversity, a saharan charm, I’m glad to finally see a miss who comes from the south Algerian.”
Another said: “Y’all can’t be making fun of her nose, hair and skin complexion and say it’s not racist.”
Khadija, who comes from the Adrar in the south of the country, took part in 20 rounds of the competition before being crowned Miss Algeria 2019.
Following her win, she will go on to represent the country on a global scale at Miss World, and will take part in charity work alongside the organisation.