Shouting "Allah akbar" and "Go to hell Miss World", more than 200 Islamic hard-liners staged a rally in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Tuesday to protest the forthcoming Miss World pageant due to be staged on the party island of Bali this weekend.
The demonstration, organised by the Islamic Society Forum, protested outside the MNC Tower where the organisers of the pageant are based. Banners read "Reject Miss World that exploits women" and "Miss World is whore contest".
Reported by the Associated Press, Muhammad Al Khathath, an Islamic Society Forum leader, shouted: "This is an insult and humiliation of women… Muslims should reject the Miss World contest."
The protesters were granted an audience with the pageant organisers but so far the contest looks likely to go ahead, with contestants travelling from around the globe to participate in the controversial event.
The Indonesian Ulema Council, a group of influential clerics that pronounce on the country’s moral law, has told the government to abandon the competition as it violates Islamic teachings. A compromise, in which the swimwear section of the competition was to include sarongs, was rejected by the Council.
Clerics said they would petition Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the country's president, to demand the pageant be cancelled. "That contest is just an excuse to show women's body parts that should remain covered," said Mukri Aji, a cleric on the Council.
Bowing to pressure, Julia Morley, the chairwoman of the London-based Miss World Organisation, announced in June that contestants would not wear bikinis however the opponents of the event remain adamant that the contest should be cancelled.
"Indonesia is designing for us a very beautiful one-piece beachwear, and I'm very happy with them," Morley told the Associated Press. "I don't think Indonesia is the only country that has that culture... but we like to work in the manner respectful to every country, and I cannot see why when you go to somebody's country you should not behave respectfully."
Indonesia, traditionally a secular country with influential Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities, has become more hard-line in recent years, with an increasing adherence to Sharia.
Controversial laws have been implemented including legislation that bans pornography; however the bill has been used to attack anything perceived as blasphemous, including members of the LGBT community.
Lady Gaga, branded a “devil worshipper” by the Islamists, was forced to cancel a scheduled concert in May amid security concerns after weeks of mounting protests from religious groups.
In 2002, 202 people were killed when members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a violent Islamists group, bombed a bar in the Balinese town of Kuta. The explosion, which targeted tourists, killed 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians, 27 Britons, 7 Americans and 6 Swedish citizens.