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Indonesian Groups Criticize ‘Miss World’ Contest as ‘Un-Islamic’

Categories: East Asia, Indonesia, Protest, Religion, Women & Gender

Muslim demonstrators hold posters rejecting the Miss World 2013 in Jakarta. Photo by dharma wijayanto, Copyright@Demotix (9/3/2013)  [1]

Muslim demonstrators hold posters rejecting the Miss World 2013 in Jakarta. Photo by dharma wijayanto, Copyright@Demotix (9/3/2013)

The nationwide protests organized by Indonesian Islamic groups led by the controversial Front Pembela Islam (FPI) have forced the government to scrap [2] the Miss World 2013 beauty pageant in the capital Jakarta. The main event will still take place on September 28 but the venue [3] is now in Bali, the country's Hindu-majority island.

Muslim groups like FPI have branded the Miss World competition as ‘un-Islamic’. They threatened to disrupt the event and hold more protests if the government will allow the contest to continue. Indonesia is the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation.

In response to the protest, the Miss World organizers have promised to replace the bikinis with Balinese sarongs for the beach fashion segment of the show. But this didn’t convince the Muslim leaders who continued [4] to call on their followers to protest the event.

@riotuasikal is disappointed with the protests and questioned their narrow interpretation of Indonesian culture [5]:

But what is budaya Indonesia (Indonesian culture) exactly, is that wearing kebaya not bikini, speaking bahasa Indonesia not English, and dancing kecak not ballet? Then we automatically judge a women as not Indonesian just because she is wearing a tank top, and is budaya Indonesia that simple? Oh no, sometimes we don’t realize that we have simplified our high cultural values into just those symbols. If we do so, please prepare yourself for symbol war.

Life is Beautiful was shocked [6] to see Miss World contestants wearing Indonesia’s national costume during the opening show [7]:

I watched the part of the show, Nusantara Parade, I think it was all joke. How can we “force” people to wear our national custom. It supposed wear with pride, but look how clumsy they wore them. Compare with usual parade when all contestant wear their own national custom, we missed all the bright happy contestant's face while they were wearing their national custom.

Randomness Thing reminded protesters that Indonesia is a secular nation [8]:

Indonesia is not an Islamic country. The constitution is clear about that and in fact we have various religions: Islam, Christian, Catholic, Hindu, Buddha, and others. What might be “haram” for you does not necessary apply to others.

Forcing your way to boycott the contest single handedly is the act of intolerance to others because clearly you are not open to discussion with other people.

The decision to change the venue of the competition was criticized by human rights groups as another proof of the rising influence of radical religious leaders [9] in the government. But Angry Magpie urged [10] these groups to also criticize the beauty pageant:

Personally I would be rather surprised if Human Rights Watch supported Miss World – beauty pageant is not exactly an issue that progressive human rights groups traditionally pursue. If anything, I'd much rather see HRW criticising beauty pageant whilst maintaining that the government should not be so easily coerced by radical groups.

William Pesek wanted the ‘misplaced anger’ [11] to be redirected to other issues:

My question is, why the misplaced anger? Where’s the outrage over obscene levels of graft, which eats up national wealth and forces 115 million Indonesians to live on less than $2 a day? Where are the placards condemning policies that have made the rupiah Asia’s most pathetic currency? Why don’t we hear chants demanding greater accountability from leaders?

Nana Bali confirmed [12] that Bali residents are happy with the holding of the event in their island:

meanwhile, Bali is calm, peace and no people are thinking the contest will bring a bad thing for us

Below are some reactions on Twitter:

An alternative protest is the holding of Muslimah World [23] pageant which was dubbed as “Islam’s answer to Miss World”. The competition was held in Jakarta where contestants recited verses from the Koran during the show. They also have to possess the three Ss [24]: sholehah (piousness), smart and stylish.