World News : The final of Miss World later this month would take place on the Hindu-majority holiday island of Bali instead of near the capital, Indonesian authorities said Saturday, September 7, after days of Muslim hardline protests.
Thousands took to the streets this week to denounce the decision to hold the beauty pageant in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, with protesters burning the organizers in effigy and branding them “infidels.”
The contest opens in Bali on Sunday, September 8. Later rounds had been scheduled to take place in and around Jakarta, with the winner originally set to be crowned at a venue outside the capital on September 28.
But the government said Saturday they had decided all events would now be held in Bali, where hardline influence is almost non-existent and where hordes of foreign tourists sunbathing in skimpy swimwear are a common sight.
READ: Indonesian rights official rejects Miss World
Hardline influence is strong in areas of the main island of Java, not far from the capital.
“All the events will now be held at venues in Bali – it will all be concentrated in Bali, until the closing,” Agung Laksono, coordinating minister for people’s welfare, told reporters in Jakarta.
He said the government had “listened to what the people wanted.” The decision was taken in a meeting between Laksono, Vice President Boediono, and police and tourism ministry representatives.
There was no immediate reaction from the Miss World organizers.
Protests flared again on Saturday, with hundreds taking to the streets on Yogyakarta and Surabaya on Java.
While the vast majority of Indonesians practice a moderate form of Islam, a vocal hardline fringe has succeeded in getting events canceled in the past.
Last year, pop sensation Lady Gaga axed a concert after hardliners threatened to burn down the venue and criticized her for wearing only “a bra and panties.” (AFP)