Miss World organizers say show will go on despite Indonesia protests

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Despite protests by Islamic hardliners against the Miss World beauty pageant in Indonesia, organizers of the international event insisted on Wednesday that the show will go on, Agence France-Presse reported.

More than 600 demonstrators took to the streets Wednesday in major cities on the islands of Java - Surabaya and Bandung, after a protest in the capital Jakarta this week against the 63rd Miss World pageant, which is set to take place in Nusa Dua, Bali and Sentul in West Java later this month.

On Thursday, the protests continued in Medan, the capital of the North Sumatra province, located on the northern coast, the Associated Press reported.

As many as 1,500 supporters of Muslimat Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (MHTI) descended on the streets of Medan, the country’s fourth largest city.

MHTI spokesperson Honriani Nasution said that his party has “sent a delegation to convey our opposition to the organization of the 2013 Miss World and other similar contests and urged the government to immediately implement Islamic law because, only under Islamic values are women honored deeply,” the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, will be the first country in Southeast Asia to host the beauty contest.

The protest continued despite Miss World organizers deciding in June to change the “bikini segment” into a sarong segment, in which beauty queen hopefuls will don traditional Balinese sarongs and blouses instead of swimwear.

The sarong is a long length of fabric wrapped around the waist.

Officials of the Miss World competition said the change was meant to highlight the fact that Miss World is not only about physical beauty, but also reflects the values of different cultures.

(With AFP and The Associated Press)