The 63rd Miss World beauty pageant will indeed be held in Indonesia despite strong protests coming from several Muslim groups who oppose the beauty contest on the grounds that it conflicts with Islamic values in the world’s most populous Muslim country such as Indonesia.
“We oppose the beauty pageant as it is degrading women to merely a commercial object,” said Mr. Amidhan, chairman of Indonesia’s Ulemas Council (MUI) to The Establishment Post. He said, the event organizer for Miss World had come to ask for permission from the council months ago, and MUI had held a special hearing with its ulemas and decided that the pageant opposes Islamic values and is “meaningless”.
“When there’s an argument that this is not just a beauty contests and such, I am asking you, can a woman with cleft lips join the contest?,” he told The Establishment Post.
“We have been tolerant enough allowing Indonesian contestants joining these beauty pageants abroad all these years, but to actually hold the event here, is very disrespectful to the most populous Muslim country,” Mr. Amidhan said, adding that the ball is now in the government’s court and it is the council’s moral obligation to warned the Indonesian government.
“Will they listen to the people or [are they] too embarrassed to lose “face” in international society?” Mr. Amidhan said.
Indonesia’s religious affairs minister Mr. Suryadharma Ali has also called for the beauty pageant to be cancelled, as opposition in the Muslim-majority country is getting stronger just days before the contest opens in Bali. He said the organisers should listen to Indonesia’s Ulemas Council, although they had agreed to remove the bikini round.
The event organizer had announced that they would not hold the bikini contest for the pageant in Indonesia in a bid to avoid controversy, and contestants would instead wear Balinese sarongs.
Bali governor Mr. Made Mangku Pastika and Ms. Mari Pangestu, the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy are both optimistic that the Miss World pageant would boost Indonesia’s tourism and economy.
Despite having the largest population of Muslims in the world, Indonesia is not constitutionally an Islamic country and is home to other religions although the country has witnessed growing intolerance in the past decade.
The competition is scheduled to open on September 8 in Bali, a Hindu-majority island well known for its beautiful beaches and continues with a final round to be held on the 28th of September at the Sentul International Convention Center in Bogor, on the outskirts of Jakarta*. Protesters threatened that they would swarm the building during the event.
“It is quite historical, that under Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono leadership, Indonesia allowing (sic) such event to take place,” Mr. Amidhan said.
*Postscript: since the publication of the article, it has been announced that the finals will be held on Bali.