Miss Iraq Resigns After Four Days

Jim Henley passes on word that Tamar Goregian has stepped down from her post as Miss Iraq after only four days, citing death threats from religious nuts.

Photo Tamar Goregian, 23, stepped down after four days as Iraq’s newly crowned beauty queen, Tamar Goregian, has decided to step down — just four days after her election, making this the shortest reign in the pageant’s 60-year history. On April 9, the 23-year-old, who was the first Armenian Iraqi to win the Miss Iraq pageant, announced her resignation after receiving threats by a group of religious extremists who referred to her as “the queen of infidels” for participating in the contest. The pageant director said: “I respect her decision. The country is undergoing rough times, and we understand her desire to protect herself and her family.”

This was the first time since the U.S.-led war against Iraq that the pageant was held on Iraqi soil. The last time this pageant was held here was in 2002. Since then, Iraqi exiles had been forced to hold the contest in Kenya where a wealthy Iraqi businessman funded the event.

Pageant organizers had hoped to pass the crown to the runner-up, or “Maiden of Beauty,” Mona Hilmi, an Iraqi Sunni Muslim. One of the organizers said she was “equally intelligent and beautiful.” However, the second and third runners-up also withdrew from the competition for security concerns. They had not received specific threats. Miss Teen Iraq, Silva Shahakian, a Christian, accepted the title.


The pageant organizers are hoping to send the winner to the Miss Universe pageant in an effort to promote a positive and modern image of Iraqi women. The last time Iraq sent a delegate to Miss Universe was in 1972 when Wijdan Sulyman represented the country in Puerto Rico. This year’s Miss Universe pageant is scheduled to take place in Los Angeles on July 23.

During her acceptance speech, Goregian told the crowd, “Maybe beauty is the final step to end violence and preach world peace after all.” The Iraqis who disagree have forced her to give up her crown and flee her country.

Sad but hardly surprising. Iraq is still a conservative Muslim society where women are expected to cover their hair lest they create too much lust in the hearts of the pious Muslim men. Parading around in swimsuits is likely pushing the envelope a bit.

On the lighter side, I found zero results for “Tamar Goregian” at Google Image search so typed in “Miss Iraq.” The results are rather amusing.

Update: Expatriate Yasmine Hannaney won the event last year. Maybe she could serve a second term?

Yasmine Hannaney, Miss Iraq 2006 Photo 3

Yasmine Hannaney, Miss Iraq 2006 Photo 2Yasmine Hannaney, Miss Iraq 2006 Photo 1

Searching my archives reveals no previous discussion of Iraqi beauty pageants. The one entitled, “Eunuch Beauty Pageant” is worth revisiting, however.

Update 2: Jawa Report’s Howie has a picture of Silva Shahakian, the “Miss Teen Iraq” winner who finally agreed to serve as fill-in. I leave it to the reader to judge the comparative beauty of Goregian, Shahakian, and Hannaney.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jim Henley says:

    The only complication is that the contest ran for 60 years until 2002.

  2. James Joyner says:

    A fair point. Dictatorships have some advantages, I guess.

  3. Dave Johnson says:

    Iraq is still a conservative Muslim society

    Actually Iraq was a secular country until we invaded and placed Iranian-backed Shiite religious parties in control.

  4. jacob says:

    boy did we help that country. Are they still spreading rose pedals before us whereever we go?

  5. joe says:

    Yeah jacob, I’m sure they liked it much better when sadaam was in power. It’s not going to change overnight people, it takes time and struggle. In 10 years, you libs will be saying, “Oh yeah, the invasion was the right descision.”