Indonesia scraps Miss World event in Sentul after protests from hard-line groups

Increasing protest from hard-line groups over the 2013 Miss World beauty pageant - which is slated to be held in Bali and Sentul in West Java from Sept. 8 to 28 - has seemingly forced the government to drop Sentul as one of the event hosts.

Coordinating People's Welfare Minister Agung Laksono announced that now all of the pageant events, from the opening ceremony to the coronation night, would be held in Bali.

However, contestants, he continued, would be allowed to visit other provinces, but not as part of the programme series.

"We take this decision after considering the pros and cons of the event for both the public and the organizer," Agung said on Saturday.

In the initial schedule, after the first week of events came to an end in Bali, all 129 contestants from around the globe would then travel to Jakarta, where they would compete in different events culminating with the final on Sept. 28 in Sentul at the Sentul International Convention Center (SICC).

The contest, however, has drawn protests from Islamic hard-line groups across the country in the days leading up to the pageant. The groups protested the decision to host Miss World in the country, calling it as an "immoral event". The absence of a bikini round in the contest has failed to appease the hard-liners.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), for instance, has conveyed its disagreement with the event, saying that the pageant was not in line with Islamic teachings. Radical groups the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic People's Forum (FUI) have also demanded the government cancel the event.

West Java is a Muslim majority province, which is reported to have the highest number of cases of violence against minority religious groups.

The sudden decision shocked the Miss World committee, as it came a few hours after the committee had held a separate press conference in Nusa Dua, Bali, where they expressed their optimism that the event would run smoothly despite mounting protests from hard-liners.

"This is an unexpected decision. Can you imagine it? It's only three weeks before the finale then suddenly there is such a change," Arief Suditomo, head of media affairs for the 2013 Miss World, said.