Bikinis will be banned from the swimsuit competition during the 2013 Miss World Pageant, being held in Indonesia on Sept. 28. The decision to replace bikinis with beach sarongs was due to protests from local Muslim groups.
Bikinis have been a staple of the pageant, featuring more than 130 countries, since its inception in 1950 but were banned from this year’s competition to respect Indonesia’s more conservative values, the Associated Press reports. The swimwear of choice has been the source of much protest from the Muslim community, and the organizers had been discussing the plan switch to a traditional sarong since the location was announced in 2012.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country, AP notes, with 87.2 percent of the nation being Muslim, according to the country’s 2010 census. Speaking of the decision on Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia, a television network that is the broadcaster for the pageant and acts as the pageant’s organizer, spokeswoman Adjie S. Soeratmadjie said the Miss World Organization approved the decision to ban bikinis from the pageant.
According to Soeratmadjie, “There will no bikini in this year's Miss World pageant to respect our traditional customs and values,” AP notes. Julia Morley, Miss World Organization spokeswoman, spoke to Agence France-Presse, adding, “We treasure respect for all the countries that take part in the pageant.”
The pageant is being held in Bali, a popular destination for tourists who opt for more revealing beach attire, AP notes. While Indonesia has traditionally held a lax stance on expression, conservative groups in the country have been increasingly influential in passing legislation banning certain practices.
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As AP notes, conservative groups helped push an anti-pornography law, and Lady Gaga had to cancel a May concert due to protests from conservative Muslim groups. Other acts, including Beyoncé, were also asked to tone down some of the sexuality during recent concerts in Indonesia, AFP reports.
Mukri Aji, a cleric from the Indonesian Council of Ulema, or MUI, said bikinis were against the teachings of Islam. According to Aji, “That contest is just an excuse to show women's body parts that should remain covered,” AP reports.