Skip to main content

Religious fury alters Miss World in Indonesia

By Kathy Quiano and Madison Park, CNN
September 27, 2013 -- Updated 0742 GMT (1542 HKT)
The top 10 Miss World contestants pose during the modeling event at the convention center in Indonesia's resort island of Bali on September 24.The Miss World finals were held Saturday, September 28, after weeks of protests from Muslim hardliners. The top 10 Miss World contestants pose during the modeling event at the convention center in Indonesia's resort island of Bali on September 24.The Miss World finals were held Saturday, September 28, after weeks of protests from Muslim hardliners.
HIDE CAPTION
Miss World sparks controversy
Miss world sparks controversy
Miss world sparks controversy
Miss world sparks controversy
Miss world sparks controversy
Miss world sparks controversy
Miss world sparks controversy
Miss world sparks controversy
Miss world sparks controversy
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Radical Islamic groups protest Miss World 2013 Contest
  • They decry it as pornography and degrading to women
  • Contest scraps swimsuit contest and moves final round to Bali

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- Demeaning, exploitative, degrading. Beauty pageants have been called lots of things.

And it's also the line coming from Islamic hardliners, who are protesting this year's Miss World Contest, which is held in the most populous Muslim nation in the world.

Protesters in Indonesia denounce the contest where women sashay in swimsuits and form-fitting evening wear, calling it insulting to Muslims and triggering threats of violence.

Islamic groups urged the government to shut the contest down. Hardliners burned signs featuring the image of last year's winner Wenxia Yu of China that read "Reject Miss World." They also presented what they deemed as appropriate attire for beauty contestants -- 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 of Indonesia's Hizbut Tahrir, a conservative Islamic group.

In an attempt to appease religious concerns, the pageant has scrapped the swimsuit competition and replaced it with less-revealing beachwear attire.

Miss World pageant moved after protests

Also, the finals were originally to be held on the outskirts of Jakarta, but angry protestors forced the event to relocate to the Hindu resort island of Bali. Members of the group, Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) tried to travel to Bali by sea from East Java, but were stopped by police.

Hary Tanoesoedibjo, the CEO of MNC Group who organized the pageant locally, disputed the government's decision to move the contest to Bali.

He said no laws have been violated by the pageant and that "everything has been adjusted to the local culture. We all know that, so no bikini."

Even before the three-week contest began on September 8, protesters slammed it as "pornography" and held signs reading: "Miss World is whore contest."

"Our demand is still the same," Yusanto said. "Don't continue this contest."

Miss World's 127 contestants competed in beach fashion, fitness, world fashion, talent and "Beauty with a Purpose" meant to honor charitable work. The top 10 models -- from Ukraine, South Sudan, Brazil, Philippines, France, Cameroon, Cyprus, England, Italy and the United States -- were announced earlier this week.

A winner will be crowned in Bali on Saturday.

Security forces will have 700 police officers for the final event.

There has been criticism of how the Indonesian government handled the Miss World controversy, that it sent a message of capitulation in favor of a vocal minority.

Indonesia is a secular country with moderate Muslims, but "a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years," according to the Jakarta Post.

"We are a complex country, so we have to balance domestic concerns with our ability to host international events," said Mari Elka Pangestu, the Tourism and Creative Economy Minister of Indonesia. "But in general, Indonesia is very open."

But not all such women's contests are so vehemently opposed.

A week ago, the World Muslimah 2013 competition was held in Jakarta, to crown a woman who applies "Islamic values in everyday life," which includes the ability to recite from the Quran. Contestants dressed in head scarves and floor-length dresses. Obabiyi Aishah Aijbola from Nigeria was named World Muslimah 2013.

Photo gallery: See World Muslimah 2013

Eka Shanty, founder of World Muslimah says the difference between Miss World and World Muslimah is that the latter is not a pageant.

"This is an international award event to appreciate young and talented Muslim women."

In addition to decrying the Miss World contest, the conservative Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir does not support the World Muslimah competition.

CNN's Kathy Quiano reported from Jakarta and Madison Park wrote from Hong Kong.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 0846 GMT (1646 HKT)
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 0048 GMT (0848 HKT)
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 0015 GMT (0815 HKT)
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT