Beleaguered pageant crowns Turk Miss World
Miss Turkey won the Miss World contest on Saturday, accepting the tiara in London after the pageant was hastily moved from Nigeria, where it spawned deadly rioting.
The Muslim-Christian violence that left more than 200 dead last month was hardly mentioned during Saturday's show. "Our thoughts go out to the families that suffered," said co-host and U.S. soap actor Sean Kanan.
The pageant was moved to London from Nigeria following rioting in Kaduna. A Nigerian journalist wrote a column that said the Muslim prophet Muhammad would have approved of the contest and would have found a bride among the contestants.
Canada's Lynsey Bennett fled the African nation before organizers decided to move the pageant. She was initially told that leaving Nigeria disqualified her for the contest, but organizers later allowed her to return.
- FROM NOV. 24, 2001 Miss Canada returns rattled by deadly riots
- FROM NOV. 26, 2001 Miss Canada will go to England for Miss World contest
When it all was finally over, Turkey's Azra Akin accepted $156,000 in cash, and the tiara from last year's winner Agbani Darego of Nigeria.
Pageant organizers said 2 billion people watched the show in 137 countries, but no British channel picked it up.
The pageant has a history of generating controversy, beginning in 1970 when feminists threw bags of flour at the event.
In 1996, police used tear gas and rubber bullets as they battled protesters in the Indian city of Bangalore. One man committed suicide by setting himself on fire.
This year, the trouble started early as several contestants boycotted the event after an Islamic court in Nigeria ordered a woman stoned to death for giving birth out of wedlock.
Following the deadly riots, critics called for the show to be cancelled. But organizers insisted the pageant was not responsible for the violence.