The Miss World pageant, being held in Indonesia this year, is supposed to about smiling beauty queens. But thanks to the Islamic Defenders Front, things are getting ugly.
A few months ago, pageant organizers announced that they would skip the bikini portion of the pageant, out of respect for (or in fear of) Indonesia being a rather conservative country with a Muslim majority.
A couple of weeks ago, the pageant was moved from Jakarta to Bali, which is a more Hindu part of the nation. And now, according to the AP:
The Islamic Defenders Front, known for angry protests and violent raids on bars and prostitution dens, began holding demonstrations weeks ago with thousands displaying signs that read: "Miss World is Whore Contest" and "Miss World Go to Hell."
And even now, concern remains that Muslim extremists may try to disrupt the event. The British, Australian and U.S. embassies have issued warnings to citizens planning trips to Bali during the competition, saying there could be large-scale protests or even attacks.
The pageant takes place on Saturday night and will be televised internationally. Fingers crossed that nothing goes horribly wrong. (The winner makes appearances in various countries, and proceeds from tickets sold for these appearances is donated to children's charities.) Even though one could argue that pageants are a terrible tradition, pure exploitative objectification of women, and that parading half-naked, similarly-coiffed humans who are smiling compliantly is similar to leading barnyard animals around a ring, the Miss World competitors have every right to vie for a rhinestone-encrusted sparkly tiara in peace.
(In the photos above, Miss Slovakia, Miss China and Miss South Sudan participate in preliminary competition rounds, held earlier this week. Images via AP.)