The annual Miss World beauty pageant will open on Sunday on the Indonesian island of Bali, despite weeks of opposition from conservative Islamic groups. But the finale, which was to take place near the capital Jakarta later this month, has also been shifted to Bali owing to the protest.

Although a democratic republic, Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country, and the Indonesian Ulema Council, an umbrella organisation of clerics, has urged the government to cancel the event. It condemned the exposure of skin by participating contestants as un-Islamic. The last few days have also seen street-protests against the pageant, in several Indonesian cities from the capital Jakarta, to Medan and Pekanbaru in Sumatra.

The island of Bali, where the majority of the contest will be held, is a predominantly Hindu enclave within Indonesia, whose Governor, Made Mangku Pastika, has given the contest his full backing. “[Participant] will follow our ethics and procedures. They will also act in accordance with Balinese tradition and culture,” he said, adding details of the benefits to tourism that the beauty contest was expected to bring in its wake.

However, as a concession to local sensitivities, the pageant’s famous bikini round has been scrapped and contestants will instead wear modest, traditional Balinese sarongs.

On Saturday coordinating minister for people’s welfare, Agung Laksono, told reporters in Jakarta that, “All the events will now be held at venues in Bali — it will all be concentrated in Bali, until the closing,”

He said the government had “listened to what the people wanted”.

The decision came after protests on Saturday on Java island.

RELATED NEWS

Lessons from Indonesia’s Hindu legacy October 14, 2013

More In: International | News