GMB Hijab saga: Why you shouldn’t be quick to condemn or support Zainab Alhassan

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Mon, 22 Jun 2020 Source: Selorm Helen

Ghana’s Most Beautiful (GMB) is gradually becoming one of the controversial beauty pageants in the country. Last year, TV3, organisers of the contest, received backlashes from fans of the Volta Regional representative when Central Region’s Ekua Mends Bannerman was ‘miraculously’ crowned winner of GMB 2019.

According to Enam’s supporters, the judges allegedly cheated and were unfair to their ‘Queen’. This year, GMB is already trending on social media though the contest is yet to start showing on our screens following the selection of contestants. This time, the judges have been indicted for discriminating and may be sued by the ‘victim’.

When TV3 started auditioning to select beauty queens to contest in the 2020 GMB pageant, a significant number of young ladies took part in the exercise. Out of the number, only 16 made it to the top to represent their various regions in this year’s contest. The greater number of contestants were rejected for reasons best known to the judges and organisers.

Zainab Alhassan who could not make it to the list of top 16 contestants as a representative of the Upper West Region is obviously not happy with the judges, particularly over reasons for which she was not selected.

The young ambitious lady attributed her rejection to the fact that she refused to remove her Hijab as requested by the judges and made it known that she intends to wear it throughout the contest.

In a series of Facebook posts, Zainab accused the judges of discriminating against her and also narrated how she lost some job opportunities because she is a ‘Hijabi’.

Her story attracted several comments and generated heated discussions with some sympathising with her and many in disagreement with her for claiming she was discriminated against by the GMB judges.

Those who rubbished her "discrimination over hijab claim" made it clear that GMB is a fashion contest where contestants are required to show off their beauty and advertise products and services of sponsors as they display their individual culture as well.

Some of the comments pointed out that, organisers have their in-house rules and anyone who wishes to be in the contest must be ready to play by the rules.

A section of Muslims on social media are divided over the issue. Some who support Zainab said she did not enter the contest to represent Islamic religion but to showcase her culture, intellect and nurture her talent.

But others do not understand why Zainab went against Islamic laws to take part in a beauty pageant which is forbidden for Muslims.

This is not the first time a story of discrimination against Muslims is trending in Ghana. There have been many debates on allowing Muslim girls in hijab into schools in Ghana and also about how some employees in the veil are warned by their employers to stop wearing them to the office.

Two staunch Muslims have shared their perspectives about this whole rant in an interview with YouTube vlogger Selorm Helen.

Zakaria Adams, a student at the University of Development Studies (UDS) explained that Zainab could not have gone into the contest to represent Islam because Islam does not support Muslims partaking in beauty pageants.

"They're trying to zero it to Islam which I beg to differ. Zainab went there because of her ambition but not to stand in line with Islam," he stressed.

Haruna Rashid Mohammed provides a deep insight into the issue of Hijab, what Islam says about women contesting in beauty Pageants, and further advised against harsh condemnation and criticism.

According to him, though Islamic laws forbid Muslims from being part of such contests, Zainab should not be crucified because we are all not saints.

"When you're going to advise someone, you don't have to be harsh. You don't have to go all out like you're the holiest person on earth. And then also, those who are supporting, you don't have to support someone because the person is your friend. Where the truth is, you stand by the truth. When we stand by the truth, friendship and enmity do not come in," he insisted.

Watch the full video for more insight on what Islam says about beauty contests.

Columnist: Selorm Helen