Conservative Muslims in Indonesia protest Miss World pageant

Angered by what they called 'an insult and humiliation to women,' some groups want the pageant canceled

Members of the Islamic Defenders Front protest against the upcoming Miss World competition.
Ed Wray/Getty Images

Some conservative Muslim groups staged a protest in Indonesia's capital Jakarta Tuesday to try to stop the country with the world's largest Muslim population from hosting the Miss World pageant this weekend on the resort island of Bali.

More than 200 members of several conservative Muslim groups organized by the Islamic Society Forum staged a rally and marched on the MNC Tower, the building that houses the local organizer of the contest.

The protesters held up banners reading "Reject Miss World that exploits women" and "Go to hell Miss World," and shouted "God is great" outside the building, which was guarded by 300 police officers.

"This is an insult and humiliation of women," Muhammad Al Khathath, an Islamic Society Forum leader, told the crowd. "Muslims should reject the Miss World contest."

Even the country's religious affairs minister has called for the pageant to be canceled.

The demonstration, however, was peaceful and broke up after protest leaders met with the pageant organizers.

Some of the contestants have already arrived for the competition set to be held partly on Bali, where the opening ceremony is to be held Sunday. 

Last week, the Indonesian Ulema Council, the country's most influential clerics group, urged the government to cancel the event, saying the exposure of skin by women in such a competition violates Islamic teachings, even after organizers agreed to cut the famed bikini competition and instead outfit contestants in more conservative sarongs.

The chairwoman of the Miss World Organization, Julia Morley, earlier confirmed that none of the contestants would wear a bikini.

However, that decision has not entirely appeased critics of the competition, who have pledged to stage demonstrations when the final round takes place outside Jakarta on Sept. 28.

A vocal minority in the country of 240 million people has previously succeeded in getting events canceled. 

Last year, pop sensation Lady Gaga canceled a planned concert in Jakarta after critics threatened to burn down the venue and criticized her for wearing only "a bra and panties."

Al Jazeera and wire services 

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