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Opening Arguments

Soul, man

Honest, this is a straight news story from The Associated Press, not a parody from The Onion:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Sukaina al-Zayer is an unlikely beauty queen hopeful. She covers her face and body in black robes and an Islamic veil, so no one can tell what she looks like. She also admits she's a little on the plump side.

But at Saudi Arabia's only beauty pageant, the judges don't care about a perfect figure or face. What they're looking for in the quest for "Miss Beautiful Morals" is the contestant who shows the most devotion and respect for her parents.

"The idea of the pageant is to measure the contestants' commitment to Islamic morals... It's an alternative to the calls for decadence in the other beauty contests that only take into account a woman's body and looks," said pageant founder Khadra al-Mubarak.

"The winner won't necessarily be pretty," she added. "We care about the beauty of the soul and the morals."

The story notes that the only true beauty pageant in the Arab world is in Lebanon, where contestants appear on TV in one-piece bathing suits and evening gowns. There "are no such displays in ultra-strict" Saudi Arabia, where "until Miss Beautiful Morals was inaugurated last year, the only pageants were for goats, sheep, camels and other animals, aimed at encouraging livestock breeding."

Wonder what Perez Hilton thinks of all this?

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