Indonesia — A winner in the Miss World Contest will be crowned Saturday evening in Bali after three weeks of protests by radical Islamic groups in Indonesia against the event being held in their country.
The protesters in the world’s most populous Muslim nation have denounced the contest where women normally appear in swimsuits and evening wear, saying it is insulting to Muslims, and calling it demeaning, exploitative and degrading, according to media reports.
Even before the contest began on September 9, protesters slammed it as “pornography” and held signs that read “Miss World is whore contest”.
Islamic groups have demanded the government stop the contest, and hardliners even burned images of last year’s winner, China’s Wenxia Yu. They said appropriate attire for beauty contestants would be long dresses and full head scarves.
“It’s only beauty, beauty and beauty, but also body, body and body, so that’s why we consider it as a contest that exploits women physically,” said Ismail Yusanto, spokesman for the conservative Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir.
The pageant scrapped the swimsuit competition and replaced it with less-revealing beachwear attire in an attempt to appease the religious objections.
They also relocated the finals to Bali, originally to be held on the outskirts of Jakarta. Angry protesters from the group Islamic Defenders Front then tried to travel to Bali by sea, but were stopped by police.
Organizers of the pageant point out that no laws have been violated by the contest, and that it has been adjusted to the local culture.
The pageant’s 127 contestants competed in beach fashion, fitness, world fashion, talent, and “Beauty with a Purpose’ honoring charitable work.
Miss Philippines Megan Young won the Top Model event over the other top 10 candidates from Ukraine, South Sudan, Brazil, France, Cameroon, Cyprus, England, Italy, and the United States. She is also considered one of the top favorites to win the grand final event.
The new Miss World will be crowned in Bali on Saturday evening, and security forces will have 700 police officers on hand for the final event.
Some have criticized the way the Indonesian government has handled the Miss World controversy, saying they gave in to a vocal minority.
The Jakarta Post says Indonesia is a secular country with moderate Muslims, but that “a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years”. Image/ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images/wusa9.com