A UNIVERSITY of Bolton graduate — who is hoping to become the first Muslim woman to represent Great Britain at the Miss Universe competition — has had to hire bodyguards after she received sinister threats.

Shanna Bukhari says she is too scared to go out alone because of the backlash against her bid to become a beauty queen.

But the 24-year-old, who studied English Literature at the University of Bolton, says the threats and abuse will not deter her from entering the pageant.

Miss Bukhari, who lives in Manchester, said she knew not everyone would be happy with her decision but was not expecting the torrent of abuse she has received. She closed down her social networking website Facebook fan page, but the problems escalated when a friend was sent internet links to images of people killed for standing up for what they believed in.

Miss Bukhari said: “I wasn’t expecting to be abused.

“My friend rang me up to make me aware of this after she saw what could happen.”

The graduate will now use private security when attending charity events in support for the Joshua Foundation, a charity for terminally ill children.

She said: “I make sure I am not alone now, it is the wise thing to do.”

The abuse has come not just from Muslims but from white British people, who have asked why she is representing “their country”, which she describes as “bizarre”. However Miss Bukhari, who was born in Blackburn, says despite the sinister undertones of some messages the majority of people who contact her are supportive.

She said: “I receive emails every day supporting what I am doing.

“I have had long emails saying that I have inspired them by what I am doing. I have had a lot of encouragement.

“I am a nice person, I don’t retaliate and I stay calm.”