Shaima Qassim, celebrates after being crowned at the end of the 2015 Miss Iraq Final in Baghdad, Iraq on Dec. 19, 2015.
Karim Kadim—AP
December 21, 2015 12:17 PM EST

A 20-year-old economics student has shaken off death threats to rivals and a barrage of criticism to be crowned the first official Miss Iraq since 1972.

“I want to prove that the Iraqi woman has her own existence in society, she has her rights like men,” Shaima Qassem Abdulrahman told NBC News on Saturday.

“I am afraid of nothing, because I am confident that what I am doing is not wrong.”

More than 150 women applied for Miss Iraq pageant, which organizers said was a chance to “create life in Iraq” and “revive our country” after years of bloodshed and internal chaos.

Read the rest of this story from our partners at NBC News.

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