International beauties wear Gadhafi T-shirts at Libya's first ever beauty contest
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP - 3 Nov) - Women from around the world gathered in Libya this week for the nation's first international beauty pageant, where contestants ditched swimsuits and sequins for T-shirts and dresses adorned with pictures of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Libya hosted the pageant and Internet users from all over the world chose the new "Miss Net World.'' Britain's Lucy Layton won the title on Saturday. Layton and 22 other women from around the world met Gadhafi and toured the north African country's beaches, desert and monuments for a week.
Photographs on the pageant Web site, www.missnetworld.tv., show the young women laughing with Gadhafi.
A series of photos shows American contestant Tecca Zendik, 23, of Los Angeles, crying as Ghadafi reportedly tells her how the United States bombed his home.
U.S. warplanes bombed his house in 1986, killing his adopted daughter, after two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman were killed in the bombing of a Berlin disco. Citing evidence of Libyan involvement, former President Ronald Reagan ordered retaliatory air strikes on two Libyan cities.
Libya was largely isolated by Western officials after U.N. sanctions were imposed on the country in 1992 for the alleged role of Libyans in the bombing of an American airliner over Scotland in 1998 that left 270 people dead.
Thhe sanctions were suspended in 1999 when Libya handed over two suspects in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. One of the suspects was convicted and the other acquitted, but the sanctions have not been fully lifted pending a settlement to the case.
The beauty pageant is likely a campaign to promote tourism in Libya.
Twenty-five women competed in the Internet contest, but the contenders from Australia and Thailand did not make the trip to Libya.
Layton, 20, from Digswell, Hertfordshire, told The Associated Press she does not know her future plans yet, but was happy for now to receive the first place.
The closing ceremony, in one of Tripoli's main hotels, featured the contestants wearing dresses with pictures of the Libyan leader printed on them.
The founder of the pageant, Omar Harfouch, a Lebanese, was quoted in the Arab press as saying that the contest's slogan is "beauty will save the world.'' - AP