Syria-born Mrs World finalist refused entry to US
A beauty queen with roots in Damascus has been refused entry to the US to compete for the UK in the Mrs World final, a seven-day pageant due to kick off on January 9.
Syrian-born Leen Clive, who was granted British citizenship two years ago, fled the Syrian conflict in 2013 with her mother carrying ‘just a bag of clothes’, according to an interview she gave on January 5.
Since arriving in the UK, she learnt English while completing a Biomedical Science degree, and has worked as a translator at the United Nations.
The beauty competitor then settled in Hull, West Yorkshire with her English husband Nigel Clive, where she plans to work for the NHS.
If she cannot get the decision reversed and gain entry to the United States before the Las Vegas competition starts, the UK may be left without a competitor.
“It’s not because of a proper reason. Sixty countries are eligible to go and I’m the only one that’s not eligible. I’m British but coming from a certain background. It’s because of my Syrian background,” Leen Clive told local newspaper The Hull Story.
Her husband and new-born daughter's applications, made at the same time as hers, were granted without delay.
The US State Department does not usually comment on individual cases, but advised Ms. Clive to make an appointment at the Embassy in south-west London. The earliest available time slot, she has been informed, is in October this year.
Elaine Marmel, the president and CEO of Mrs World, wrote: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Mrs Clive to compete at the Mrs World pageant, and this is a huge honour for the United Kingdom to have their delegate … represented at the most prestigious pageant in the world.”
The UK’s hopeful competitor has received widespread support, including from her local Labour MP, Emma Hardy.
“It’s fantastic that Leen is using this platform to promote equality and her story, going from a refugee to representing our country. As her local MP I’ll use what influence I have to try to get this resolved as soon as we can”, Hardy told The Hull Story.
On Instagram Leen Clive tried to stay positive, writing to her 132k followers “If I don’t make it to America this time, hopefully I can make it next year and meet all the lovely people I got to know through this wonderful pageant”.