Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Aceh outrage over Miss Indonesia

Compiled from the original sources (click to view): BBC/Karishma Vaswani, and Salim OsmanStraits Times/ANN

She represented Aceh in Indonesia's high-profile beauty pageant, and beat 37 others to win the coveted Miss Indonesia Universe crown last Friday (October 9).

But instead of praise, Miss Qori Sandioriva, 18, who is part Acehnese, has been denounced by clerics and community leaders in Indonesia's strict Islamic province for bringing shame to Aceh.

The furore centres on her taking part in the contest without wearing a jilbab, the Islamic headdress.

Clerics in Indonesia's conservative Muslim province of Aceh say they are outraged that an Acehnese woman has won the title of Miss Indonesia.

The clerics say that by failing to wear a veil during the competition she has betrayed her Acehnese roots and brought shame to the province.

Aceh has special autonomy in Indonesia and has implemented partial Sharia law.

It is the only province in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, that follows these laws.

Miss Qori claimed that she had the blessings of the Aceh provincial government to represent the province in the pageant.

But Deputy Governor Muhammad Nazar disputed her claim yesterday, saying: "I will meet her personally to query why she took part in the contest."

Teung-ku Faisal Ali, the secretary general of Aceh's Ulama Association, said that anyone who represents Aceh must uphold the province's values.

He said Qori Sandioriva did not wear a veil during the competition and therefore did not represent the Acehnese people, who have strong Islamic faith and values.

When asked about not wearing a veil during the competition, Ms Sandiorova said she believed hair is beauty, and that she is proud of beauty.

The controversy is likely to return next year when she goes on to compete in the Miss Universe contest where she will have to don a swimsuit as part of the pageant.

Beauty pageants have always been a sensitive issue in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, because of the presence of a small but vocal minority comprising hardline Muslim groups that object to such contests.