A 23-year-old dental student from France won the Miss Universe beauty pageant, held in the Philippines this year. The race turned more political than usual as finalists commented on the refugee crisis and other issues.
Iris Mittenaere from the town of Lille in northern France was visibly stunned when she won the beauty contest featuring 86 contestants.
Miss Haiti, Raquel Pelissier, a 25-year-old survivor of the devastating 2010 earthquake, was named first runner-up of the competition while Miss Colombia, 23-year-old, Andrea Tovar, was announced the second runner-up.
Mittenaere, who is a dental surgery student, said she would use her title to "advocate for dental and oral hygiene."
A pageant of opinions
In the final round of questions posed to the finalists, Miss France highlighted the global refugee crisis, commenting on benefits of France's open borders.
"In France we want to have the most globalization that we can. We want to have the biggest exchange of people that we can," Mittenaere said.
"Having open borders allows us to travel more through the world and to find out more about what's out there in the world."
Iris Mittenaere wasn't the only beauty queen pushing political hot buttons during the evening. Miss Kenya, Mary Esther Were, said she she thought the new US president, Donald Trump, was dividing his country - as opposed to his predecessor Barack Obama, whom she felt embodied a unifying role.
Host Steve Harvey's blunder in Las Vegas in 2016 brought renewed attention to the global beauty pageant
"I feel once he took up his position, he was able to unify the entire nation," said the 27-year-old contestant said.
Miss Colombia, Andrea Tovar, also touched on the Trump presidency in her speech when asked why violence was so prevalent in the world. The 23-year-old second runner-up answered the question referring to varying leadership styles, saying "(a)lthough there are presidents who don't get along with others, we work together to unite."
Despite the political overtones, none of the contestants decided to question their host country's president,Rodrigo Duterte, whose brutal drug war has left more than 6,000 people dead over the past year.
ss/kms (AP, AFP)