Melbourne: 25-year-old Esma Voloder has been crowned as Miss World Australia 2017.
Esma, a practising Muslim, hopes to use the title to challenge stereotypes associated with her Islamic faith.
‘The Islam that I know, that is in the Koran, I don’t associate that with any acts that are occurring around the world,’ she said after taking the crown at the pageant held in Grand Hyatt Melbourne.
‘People tend to blame religion for the atrocities that are happening, but if we do that we take responsibility away from the individuals.’
‘And then we are not able to assess them, and deal with them effectively, because we are blaming an external source,’ she added.
‘A lot of things have been misconstrued about Islam,’ she said.
‘I feel that a category has been created that is not really what the Koran actually promotes. I believe Islam is about peace, unity, prosperity and inclusion.’
Currently working as a criminal profiler, Esma came to Australia when she was a five months old baby after her parents fled the Bosnian refugee camp more than two decades ago.
“Despite what your personal beliefs are, if we all believe in what is good, we can work together and make this world a beautiful and liveable place while we are here.”