Muslim protests confine Miss World pageant to Bali (w/ gallery)

Reigning Miss World 2012, Wenxia Yu (C) of China waving with contestants from the Miss World 2013 contest wearing traditional Indonesian costumes on the stage during the beauty pageant contest opening ceremony in Nusa Dua, on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali. SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP/Getty Images

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The 63rd edition of the Miss World pageant opened Sunday after protests by Muslim hardliners confined the event to Indonesia’s predominantly Hindu resort island of Bali.

The opening ceremony, which was televised to 186 countries, featured Bali’s Kecak Dance and a parade of all 131 contestants.

Following days of protests by Indonesian hard-line Muslim groups and the rejection of the contest by a leading clerics’ organization, the government announced Saturday that it was moving the Sept. 28 final round to Bali.

Bali is the only Hindu-dominated province in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country.

Controversy over the pageant has been mounting in Indonesia, which has a reputation as a tolerant, pluralist society that respects freedom of expression.

The Indonesia Ulema Council, the country’s most influential clerics’ organization, and the hard-line groups Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia and Front for Islamic Defenders have urged the government to cancel the event.

They have argued that the exposure of skin by women in a competition violates Muslim teachings, even after organizers agreed to cut the bikini competition and instead outfit contestants in more conservative sarongs.



Picture 1 of 19

This photograph taken by Miss World on September 6, 2013 and released on September 9 shows reigning Miss World 2012 Wenxia Yu of China (C) and other contestants for the Miss World 2013 being escorted by police and male civilian escorts during a tour at the Tanah Lot temple in Bali. AFP PHOTO / MISS WORLD / ALBERT TJONG

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