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Miss Egypt upstaged by political unrest

Amid political turmoil, the Miss Egypt pageant is the last thing on Egyptians' minds, despite the competition's rich history.
Miss Egypt Elham Wagdi performs during the 46th Miss International Beauty Pageant final in Xianghe, east of Beijing November 11, 2006.   REUTERS/Alfred Cheng Jin   (CHINA) - RTR1J901

Elham Wagdi first walked into the small Miss Egypt office in Cairo in 2006 in dirty jeans and with paint in her hair. She had come directly from her university art class, not knowing what to expect. There were about 100 girls in 5-inch heels and sequined dresses in every corner of the space, practicing for their audition to become the next Miss Egypt, and hopefully, the next Miss Universe.

She overheard two girls advising each other on what to say. “Just tell him, ‘I want world peace,’” Wagdi remembered the girl telling her nervous friend. At that moment, she had a feeling she would not make it through to the next phase — she had just told the panel she was not interested in fame or even winning, but just wanted to try something new.

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