When Iraqi-born Huda Falah, 18, won Denmark's first Miss Headscarf competition earlier this month because of "her blue headscarf and her beautiful, irresistible style," many Danes simply smiled, shrugged and moved on.
Others saw the pageant as emblematic of the growing influence of Islam in Denmark and what some perceive as its anti-democratic and woman-hostile spirit.
"The headscarf symbolises that women are inferior to men (and) I don't think this is something we should promote through a beauty competition," Inger Stoejberg, a high-ranking member of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's Liberal Party said in a newspaper interview ahead of the pageant.
Naser Khader, a Muslim member of parliament, agreed, calling instead for a competition for "the best arguments against the headscarf."
A number of Imams meanwhile slammed the pageant as disrespectful to Denmark's 200,000 Muslims, who make up 3.5 percent of the population and the country's second largest religious community after the state-run Lutheran Church.
The fact that the controversy followed on the heels of a nationwide debate over whether judges should be allowed to sit on the bench while wearing the headscarf, or hijab, made it all the more touchy.
"Some Muslims have the feeling they are being pilloried by Danish society," sociologist and Liberal Party MP Eyvind Vesselbo told AFP.
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