The Miss World beauty contest held this year in Indonesia has attracted vehement opposition by Islamic groups in the nation, who have in response set up a rival beauty pageant only for Muslims.
The Muslimah World contest is Islam’s answer to Miss World, according to its founder Eka Shanti, and is to be held on Wednesday in the Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital.
“Muslimah World is a beauty pageant, but the requirements are very different from Miss World – you have to be pious, be a positive role model and show how you balance a life of spirituality in today’s modernized world,” Shanti told AFP.
Twenty Muslimah World finalists were chosen from more than 500 who took part in an online selection process.
The process involved the competitors reciting the Quran and sharing anecdotes of how to wear the headscarf, which is a requirement of the show.
The competition’s finalists hail from countries with large Muslim populations, including Bangladesh, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria and Brunei.
The finalists will wear fashionable yet Islamic garments in what Shanti says is an opportunity to show young Muslim women that they do not need to show their hair and bare shoulders to be considered beautiful.
However, Shanti said that she did not support calls to cancel the Miss World contest, saying the Indonesia was a religiously diverse country.
“We don’t just want to shout ‘no’ to Miss World. We’d rather show our children they have choices. Do you want to be like the women in Miss World? Or like those in Muslimah World?” said Shanti, according to AFP.
After unrelenting protests, Indonesian government officials said last week that the Miss World final would be shifted to Bali, which has a Hindu majority population who do not oppose the contest.
Miss World pageant in response dropped the bikini from one of its rounds. So far, the show has attracted more than a month of protests demanding that the show is terminated.
Some protestors have burnt effigies of the organizers and have called the contest “pornographic”.