ONE of Indonesia’s most influential Islamic groups is urging the government to cancel the Miss World pageant scheduled for next month, saying the exposure of skin by women in a competition violates Muslim teachings.
A top-level meeting of clerics was held earlier this month by the Indonesian Ulema Council to respond to protests from some groups over Indonesia’s hosting of the event, even after organizers agreed to cut the bikini competition and instead outfit contestants in more conservative sarongs, council chairman Amidan Shaberah said.
“Our position is clear, we reject Indonesia being the host of Miss World,” Shaberah said. “Because exposing their bodies in a contest is against Islamic teachings.”
The council is an influential Islamic body that often issues fatwas, or edicts, including controversial rulings against smoking and yoga. Though not legally binding, many devoted Muslims follow such decrees because ignoring them is considered a sin.
The pageant is scheduled to be held partly on the resort island of Bali, with the final round on Sept. 28 near the capital, Jakarta.
Miss Israel had dropped out of the competition, but declined to give the reason. Indonesia and Israel do not have diplomatic relations.