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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid