Khadija Ben Hamou

The first dark-skinned winner of the Miss Algeria beauty pageant has hit back at critics who have hurled racial abuse at her on social media.

“I will not back down because of the people who criticised me,” Khadija Ben Hamou told Algerian news site TSA.

Slurs about her skin colour, nose and lips have been made about her on Facebook and Twitter.

Darker-skinned Algerians face discrimination in the North African state.

Ms Ben Hamou, who comes from the southern Adrar region, said that she was proud of her identity and winning the competition.

“I am honoured that I have achieved my dream, and I am honoured by the state of Adrar where I come from,” she said.

“I also encourage the girls of my region to participate in the competition if they wish to do so,” she added.

Ms Ben Hamou took part in 20 rounds of the competition before being crowned Miss Algeria 2019 on Saturday.

Her critics said she did not represent the beauty of Algeria, but she has received support from others on social media.

Ms Ben Hamou told TSA, “Do not judge people without their knowledge, there is no difference between black and white.”

Miss Algerie, the pageant organiser, said it deplored “the racist behaviour and comments of several people as a result of publications and retouched photos”.

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