News / Asia

Muslim Women Compete in Miss Muslima Beauty Pageant

Nigerian Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola is crowned by her predecessor World Muslimah 2012 Nina Septiani of Indonesia (R) after being named World Muslimah 2013 during the third Annual Award of World Muslimah in Jakarta, Sept. 18, 2013.
Nigerian Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola is crowned by her predecessor World Muslimah 2012 Nina Septiani of Indonesia (R) after being named World Muslimah 2013 during the third Annual Award of World Muslimah in Jakarta, Sept. 18, 2013.
Kate Lamb
In Indonesia, organizers of the “Miss World” beauty pageant have bowed to pressure from Islamic hardliners and moved the event to the Hindu-majority island Bali. But in the country’s capital, Muslim women from across the globe took to the catwalk to compete in a Miss World of their own.

At Miss Muslimah 2013, glamorous, floor-length hijabs - not bikinis - are the official attire on the catwalk.

The pageant is touted as ‘Islam’s answer to Miss World’ and included contestants from as far as Iran and Nigeria.

Eka Shanti, a former Indonesian TV anchor founded the event after losing her job because she refused to take off her headscarf on air.

Shanti said the Jakarta event was held in deliberate defiance of the controversial Miss World contest in Bali.  Muslimah, she argued, promotes an alternative, more modest, idea of beauty.

Miss Mulismah contestants are required to wear hijab in their daily lives. They were judged on how well they recited Koranic verses and on their views on Islam and the modern world.

Andreas Harsono from the Indonesian branch of Human Rights Watch said both Miss World and Miss Mulismah are essentially beauty contests and so are not that different from each other.

“They [Miss World and Muslimah] are talking about the beauties of women, albeit this one is branded with Islam wearing the hijab ectera, it is ok," said Harsono. "Meanwhile if the same argument is being used against them, exposing sexuality, of course this Islamic contest can also be branded as un-Islamic. It is a total discrimination against anything that is branded against Islam.”

Harsono added that keeping up Islamic appearances is also on the rise, with more than 100 local bylaws requiring women to wear hijab.

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation and many there practice a moderate form of Islam. 

But fringe groups of Islamic hardliners have been up in arms over plans to hold the Miss World final near Jakarta.

Describing the contest as "pornographic," protesters threatened to hijack the event and even burnt effigies of the organizers.

Miss World pageant contestants leave Bali International Convention Center after a rehearsal in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Sept. 16, 2013.Miss World pageant contestants leave Bali International Convention Center after a rehearsal in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Sept. 16, 2013.
x
Miss World pageant contestants leave Bali International Convention Center after a rehearsal in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Sept. 16, 2013.
Miss World pageant contestants leave Bali International Convention Center after a rehearsal in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Sept. 16, 2013.
Miss World organizers had already promised to exclude their bikini contest and use sarongs instead, but hardliners were not appeased.

The government finally buckled, instructing Miss World to move its final to the mostly Hindu island Bali, where the event first opened on September 8.

British, U.S., and Australian embassies have since issued warning that extremists may still attack the event.

Harsono said the decision shows the government has failed to take a stand against religious extremists.

“It shows that Muslim hardliners have a lot of influence over the government to move this Miss World competition... It shows they are effective just by protesting with 1,000-2,000 people, they can move this event to Bali.  And even in Bali they want to stop the event,” said Harsono.

This is the first year Muslimah has accepted international contestants and is the third time it has been held since 2011.

Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola, a 21-year-old Nigerian woman took home the grand prize, which included some $2,000 in prize money and a trip to Mecca and India.

In India, Ajibola will help raise money to educate the children of sex workers.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Keen from: Philippines
October 12, 2013 4:04 AM

We belong to a democratic world, so this entitles us to have our own ideology and opinion...Personally, I think wearing bikini is not as provocative as it seems...It depends on how women carry themselves while wearing it and how men perceive them...For our ultra-conservative Muslim brothers in Indonesia, who have a very strong and clear criteria on morality, thinks differently from the rest of the world; which they are entitled to...I think to achieve a common ground, organizers of such beauty pageant should consider the location of the contest next time...


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 19, 2013 3:03 PM
Beautiful women wearing masks, how do the judges determine what they want? Are they judging by the make up of their attire, the color of their clothes, or a sack-race type of who gets there first?

In Response

by: Tim from: Australia
October 06, 2013 5:31 PM
They are based on intellect and knowledge, rather than beauty - which doesn't last forever in this life, unlike the Miss world/universe competitors, who hardly know a thing about how to use the brain they were given...
So don't be so shallow my brother in humanity, May God guide you.
Peace.


by: transparent thinker from: Mumbai
September 19, 2013 12:10 PM
Why is the pageant body sending her to India? I can understand Mecca but India is not a Islamic country. She should visit countries like Iran, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. I am sure she would see the beauty of Islam in these countries

In Response

by: Jim from: Fox River Grove, Illinois
September 20, 2013 2:13 PM
Oh please, transparent thinker. These ladies do not have to go to India, they so chose. Let them see some of our great planet earth. India is dynamic and beautiful. To even suggest they should go to the war zones listed by you is beyond me. They would probably be more welcome in North Korea. Let's, please, let them enjoy their few days of appreciation. Thoughts, Jim

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid