JAKARTA, Indonesia – Approximately 200 Indonesian Muslim hard-liners protested in the Indonesian Capital Jakarta Tuesday to ban the Miss World Pageant scheduled for next month as it violates the Muslim teaching.
One of Indonesia’s most influential Islamic groups assembled on the MNC Tower, where the local organizer outburst their anger against the competition as Islam forbid women from publicly “exposing their bodies in a contest.”
Protesters waved banners reading “Reject Miss World that exploits women”, “Go to hell Miss World” and “Boycott Miss World Sponsors” while others shouted “Allah akbar” or “God is great” outside the building, guarded by 300 police.
“This is an insult and humiliation of women,” Muhammad Al Khathath, an Islamic Society Forum leader, said to the crowd.
However, it was peaceful throughout the demonstration and protesters split up after meeting the pageant organizers.
Meanwhile, some of the candidates were already in Indonesia for the competition. The opening ceremony will be held on Bali on Sunday with the final round of the competition on September 28.
No bikini round
Last week, Indonesian Ulema Council, which often issues fatwas, or edicts, conducted a top-level meeting in August to study the issue and came up with the decision to cancel the Miss World Pageant, though the organizers agreed to let the candidates wear a wraparound sarong during the contest.
“Our position is clear, we reject Indonesia being the host of Miss World,” council chairman Amidan Shaberah said.
She further added that the decision made by the council is considered as a recommendation, not an official demand to the government.
“We are not Sharia police, we are not law enforcers but we suggest the government cancel it,” Shaberah said, referring to authorities who enforce Islamic law.
On the other hand, Adjie S. Soeratmadjie of Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia (RCTI), the official broadcaster and local organizer of the pageant, said that some changes were being made to make the Miss World Pageant more suitable for Indonesian culture and other beauty contests held in the country.
“We understand the position of the council. But the show must go on … we call on the protesters to avoid anarchy and we are sure authorities can maintain security,” Soeratmadjie said.
He also added that Miss Israel already backed out of the competition without giving any reasons.
Furthermore, the chairwoman of the Miss World Organization, Julia Morley, verified that no candidates would wear a bikini.
The beauty pageant started in the 1950s, in which the first-winner who wore a two-piece bathing suit was crowned.
The hard-line Islamic Defenders Front has records of vandalizing nightspots, throwing stones at Western embassies and creating chaos against rival religious groups.
On the previous year, Lady Gaga cancelled her sold-out Indonesia show after receiving threats and dangers from the front, who denounced her as a “devil worshipper”.
Faye Michelle Regis
ABCom, Leyte Normal University