Indonesia moves Miss World final to Bali after protests

Indonesia moves Miss World final to Bali after protests
Indonesian female Muslim protesters march to the offices of media group MNC, the main sponsor for the 2013 Miss World Beauty pageant that will be held in Jakarta and Bali, during a protest in Jakarta on September 3, 2013.

JAKARTA - Indonesia said on Saturday that the final of Miss World later this month would take place on the Hindu-majority holiday island of Bali instead of near the capital, after days of Muslim hardline protests.

Thousands took to the streets this week to denounce the decision to hold the beauty pageant in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, with protesters burning the organisers in effigy and branding them "infidels".

The contest opens in Bali on Sunday and later rounds were due to take place in and around Jakarta, with the winner originally set to be crowned at a venue outside the capital on September 28.

But the government said on Saturday they had decided all events would now be held on Bali, where hardline influence is almost non-existent and which is used to hordes of foreign tourists sunbathing in skimpy swimwear.

Hardline influence is strong in areas of the main island Java not far from the capital.

"All the events will now be held at venues in Bali - it will all be concentrated in Bali, until the closing," coordinating minister for people's welfare, Mr Agung Laksono, told reporters in Jakarta.

He said the government had "listened to what the people wanted". The decision was taken in a meeting between Mr Laksono, Vice President Mr Boediono, and police and tourism ministry representatives.

There was no immediate reaction from the Miss World organisers.

Protests flared again on Saturday, with hundreds taking to the streets on Yogyakarta and Surabaya on Java.

While the vast majority of Indonesians practise a moderate form of Islam, a vocal hardline fringe has succeeded in getting events cancelled in the past.

Last year, pop sensation Lady Gaga axed a concert after hardliners threatened to burn down the venue and criticised her for wearing only "a bra and panties".

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