After 40 years of absence, Morocco is back in the Miss Universe contest and will be represented by Kawtar Benhalima, crowned Miss Morocco, on November 10, despite the controversy on social networks asking for its withdrawal following the discovery of its Algerian origins.
What would a miss contest be without a scandal? Morocco does not seem to be an exception, with the election of Kawtar Benhalima. The 22-year-old young woman is preparing to take up a new challenge, after being elected Moroccan beauty queen on November 10. She will represent Morocco at the Miss Universe contest which will take place in Israel.
The appointment of Benhalima comes after the withdrawal of Fatima-Zahra Khayat, initially elected as Miss Morocco, who was forced to hand over her title to her first runner-up due to a sprained ankle that prevents her from competing for the title of Miss Universe Morocco.
However, the joy of Benhalima is accompanied by the anger of the Moroccans who demand his withdrawal after learning of his Algerian origins.
A controversial election
The reason? Its Algerian roots. During the Miss Morocco competition, she mentioned her grandmother when asked who was the person who had inspired her the most throughout her life, to explain the journey of the one who had emigrated from Algeria with her brothers during the War of Independence and had managed to forge a future in an unfamiliar place through her talent as a dressmaker, which she eventually used to help other women become independent.
These statements sparked a wave of hatred on social media despite the fact that she herself made it clear that she was born in Marrakech and that is where she graduated in business after studying d ‘first at the American school in Morocco then in France. Some have misinterpreted the words of the young woman, seeing it as an insult, even going to create a hashtag #BoycottKawtarBenhalima.
This controversy around Kawtar Benhalima comes at a time when relations between Morocco and Algeria are more than tense, even interrupted by the neighboring country which accuses the Kingdom of several evils, including a fire, and in particular the murder of three Algerian civilians.
Please sign this petition !! #BoycottKawtarBenhalima
Kawtar BENHALIMA made a statement that scandalized Moroccans, while the young candidate is supposed to represent Moroccan women as they should and especially defend Moroccan heritage https://t.co/hBo8eLZ80L pic.twitter.com/Hbf8eWNjZO
– It Comes From MarOc (@ Gigi_1_) November 13, 2021
🔱🇲🇦 A Moroccan newspaper mentioned The boycott of #kawtarbenhalima ! ⤵️ Our goal is to exclude him from the competition # MissUniverse2021 ! We want to be represented by a 100% Moroccan! Let her clear! # كوثر_ليست_مغربية pic.twitter.com/atjrJG7QSt
– lalakoum maghribiya🇲🇦🇧🇩 (@LalakoumM) November 14, 2021
Thanks to the Belgo-Moroccans for the petition, we cannot be represented by Kawtar Benhalima in bad faith who affirms that his Algerian grandmother taught Moroccan women to sew.#ProtectMoroccanHeritage#BoycottKawtarBenhalima https://t.co/yV0KoBEuOX
– Nessrine (@ Nessrineavec2s) November 13, 2021
– Yacine17 (@ TerrieurAlex13) November 18, 2021
Miss Morocco, a philanthropist who keeps her head high
Far from the controversy that surrounds him, Kawtar intends to represent his country, Morocco, with pride. “Participating in Miss Universe is a new experience for me, for my family and for my loved ones. We are all extremely proud to wear our country’s colors at this prestigious competition. It is also a great honor for me to represent Moroccan women. I feel both very moved and full of gratitude ”, said Miss Morocco.
” I am not afraid; I am on the contrary very confident! I know everything is going to be great. I have a great team behind me that supports me enormously, but the most important thing is that I represent an exceptional country! “, she added.
Kawtar began his studies at the American School of Marrakech, before completing his graduate studies at ESSEC Paris.
Today, she is enrolled at the University of Montreal where she is preparing a diploma in Specialized Education. The young girl also has a keen sense of entrepreneurship since she created with her sister Kenza, in October 2020, a jewelry brand called “K2”.
Miss Morocco also adores writing, composing and singing songs: she plays on the piano and is passionate about sports. Kawtar played football for seven years, as well as basketball at a very high level.
Kawtar Benhalima has always been involved in associative activities. Passionate about children, the Miss plans, after her studies in Canada, to return to Morocco and launch a structure which will be entirely dedicated to children in difficulty.
“I intend to develop a project that will focus on the experiences of young Moroccan girls and women, through the publication of books, poadcasts, collections in photography and dedicated storytelling. This is my vision today and I am very keen on this project ”, she confides.
As a reminder, Miss Universe will take place in the Israeli resort town of Haifa on December 12, with the participation of 75 competitors from different countries of the world.
Morocco had not attended the Miss Universe pageant for 4 decades, after its first entry into the pageant in 1957, where Miss Jacqueline Dorella represented the Kingdom at the event held in California and was won by Miss Peru, Gladys Zinder.