Miss World pageant nixes bikini competition in face of religious Muslim protest threat
posted at 9:21 pm on June 6, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham
Who’s ready for the world famous and highly anticipated one-piece, conservative beach sarong competition? I can imagine a scenario in which a Western contestant, keen on the kind of nose-thumbing at stuffy cultural norms that lifted the dreary “Little Miss Sunshine” to Oscar commendations and would lift her to viral video fame, rips off her sarong to reveal—gasp!—a shocking two-piece swimsuit. Sadly, an act which truly gave power and purpose to a display of the female form would probably be tsk-tsked by the same people who lectured Americans about their “puritanical” nature after, say, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction. Not to mention, she’d probably earn a fatwa along with her fame.
JAKARTA, INDONESIA Miss World organizers have axed the famed bikinis from this year’s pageant, replacing them with conservative beach sarongs amid mounting protests from hardline Muslim groups.
Indonesia will host the 2013 Miss World competition in the country’s resort island of Bali and the capital, Jakarta, in September.
Adjie S. Soeratmadjie, one of the local organizers, said Thursday that all contestants will be required to wear Bali’s traditional long sarongs instead of the sexy bikinis that are traditionally part of the competition.
Controversy over the pageant has been mounting in Indonesia, which has a reputation as a tolerant, pluralist society that respects freedom of expression.
Clerics of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, or MUI, said they would send a letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to demand that the beauty pageant be canceled.
“That contest is just an excuse to show women’s body parts that should remain covered,” said Mukri Aji, a prominent cleric from West Java province’s MUI branch. “It’s against Islamic teachings.”
Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, a hardline Islamic group, said it planned to stage a protest and called for the competition to be moved elsewhere.
Most Muslims in Indonesia, a secular country of 240 million people, are moderate, but a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.
You don’t say. And, we happily buckle to these blowhards at the mere suggestion of a protest? This isn’t just a problem with religious Muslims, though their protests do generally carry with them a higher than average carnage quotient, but with Western society bending to every single neighborhood narc or busybody who sends an irate letter to the editor. No wonder certain populations find threats of violence so effective. I’d say we’re happy to shoot ourselves in the foot, but I’m pretty sure we’ve banned that metaphor at the behest of Moms Against Violence or whatever.
This will be the first time Miss World contestants have not donned bikinis since 1950, but methinks we won’t hear much about it from the “turn back the clock” crowd, which thinks a birth control copay is tantamount to the ignominy of a dowry negotiation. I was never a pageant participant and have certain reservations about them, but it’s not a victory for the ladies if these decisions come at the puritanical, patriarchal, and occasionally violent whims of a bunch of dudes. Lady Gaga canceled a concert in Indonesia last year amid threats from the Islamist community, which dubbed her a “devil’s messenger” in “bra and panties,” which should totally have become a single by now! J-Lo covered herself and all her dancers before a Jakarta performance.
By all means, let’s conform to a societal standard in which even the late Esther Williams’ costumes would be considered grounds for rioting, because tolerance. Jim Treacher gives you the slideshow you all deserve to celebrate our freedoms.
Maybe next year, we can eliminate dancing from the talent competition. Off-limits in Saudi Arabia, as Remy points out in his own, special way: