Clerics call for Miss World boycott
A return by Samoa to the Miss World beauty pageant after a 25 year absence may be in doubt as religious opposition grows in Indonesia to “exposing women’s bodies in public”, according to news reports yesterday.
Indonesia's top Islamic authority lashed out at the country's decision to host the Miss World beauty pageant next month, saying that the pageant goes against Muslim teaching.
The pageant is already facing opposition in Muslim-majority Indonesia, with radicals vowing to stage protests against the contest even after organisers agreed to drop the bikini round in a bid to avoid causing offence.
Concerns there echo those held in other deeply religious countries, like Samoa, where revealing bikinis have long been banned from local pageants, and near nudity is considered offensive.
But Indonesian clerics are also against any form of clothing – like the popular Samoan dress, the puletasi – which reveals the form or outline of the female body.
Conservative religious sentiment is a somewhat ironic reflection of equally long standing feminist outrage over pageants which are considered by many as exploitative, reducing the worth of a woman to solely her physical appearance.
Decades of simmering controversy look set to bubble over again in Indonesia.
This is despite attempts by organisers to make pageants more meaningful including with campaigns like “beauty with a purpose,” which sees contestants volunteer for various social causes.
Meantime, Miss World Samoa organisers did not respond to email questions yesterday.
Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation with a population of about 250 million – although most also specify they are non-denominational.
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