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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Post news and discuss issues on Indonesian contemporary culture & society here! let me start...

Showing skin, risking hide
The Miss Universe contestant from Muslim Indonesia is caught in a firestorm of conservatives' anger over the swimsuit competition

By Kim Barker
Tribune foreign correspondent
Published May 3, 2005



JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Miss Indonesia has glossy black hair and a law degree, smiles constantly and talks about helping children. In many ways, she is the ideal Miss Universe contestant.

But Artika Sari Devi faces one major obstacle in competing in the Miss Universe pageant May 30: wearing a swimsuit. To Islamic clerics and many others, an Indonesian Muslim woman showing skin would be a public slap against Islam and a national embarrassment.

"No way!" exclaimed Monik, a 9-year-old girl who like many Indonesians uses only one name. "It's porno. You can't have that in Islam."

The debate may seem frivolous--especially in Indonesia, with its rampant prostitution and an anything-goes attitude in certain quarters.

But the controversy over whether Miss Indonesia should wear a swimsuit shows the growing pains of the world's most populous Muslim country since the fall of a dictator in 1998.

For Artika, her family and the women who have pushed for years to send an official Indonesian contestant to Miss Universe, this issue represents women's empowerment and a chance to increase tourism in the country. For months, Artika and the Miss Indonesia Foundation have been trying to win public support before deciding whether to enter the international competition.

They point to countries such as Egypt and Turkey, which send contestants to Miss Universe without problems.

"Many Muslim countries have joined the pageant," said Artika, 25. "My family doesn't even think it's a problem."

This is hardly the first time a beauty contest has run up against conservative Muslims, who believe women always should dress modestly. Most international pageants require women to wear a swimsuit, either a one-piece or a bikini.

The Miss Bangladesh contest was canceled in 1998 after Islamic groups protested. The prospect of a Miss World pageant in Nigeria led to riots sparked by Muslims that killed at least 215 people in 2002. An Afghan-American woman who wore a red bikini in the Miss Earth contest in 2003 was threatened with criminal prosecution if she ever returned to her homeland.

The Islam of Indonesia has always been more moderate. Military dictator Suharto said Indonesian women should not compete in the Miss Universe pageant for cultural reasons, not religious ones.

But since the fall of Suharto, who also frowned on many expressions of Islam, many people have turned to Islam personally and politically.

Movement toward faith

More women wear modest clothing and cover their hair. More men attend Friday prayers. Fringe groups have waged violence in the name of Islam.

The new freedoms also have led to something else. Magazines picture scantily clad women, something not seen under the Suharto regime. Nightclubs feature dancers in bikinis and prostitutes in backrooms. Best-selling books describe tales of bizarre sex in Indonesia. Transvestites, called "lady-boys" here, perform drag shows and select their own Miss Indonesia.

The contradictions are everywhere. Government censors still try to ban movies and books deemed objectionable to Islam. The 2004 Indonesian movie "Kiss Me Quick" was banned after a popular Islamic cleric objected to the title, although the movie featured only one chaste kiss.

But somehow a movie called "Virgin" made its way into theaters in November. In that movie, three girls struggle with teenage life in Jakarta. One takes pictures of the girls' breasts with her cell phone camera. Another sells her virginity so she can buy a cell phone and clothes. All this, in the first 10 minutes of the movie.

By the end, a moral of sorts becomes obvious: The remaining virgin has the only happy life.

Compared with that face of Indonesia, a beauty queen wearing a swimsuit might not merit much attention. But Artika--not the sex books, not the prostitutes, not the lady-boys--has drawn the public ire of the clerics in large part because she is a woman on an global stage.

"There's nothing wrong with her wearing a swimsuit in her room or relaxing in private," said Fauzan Al-Anshary, the Jakarta head of the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council, which has protested Indonesia's participation in the international beauty pageant. "But if it's in public, that will give rise to bad things or crimes."
Women in Indonesia have rebelled in the past. In the early 1980s, Miss Indonesia winners tried to quietly compete in the Miss Universe contest, skipping publicity photos and staying out of the media spotlight as much as possible. And in 1996, Miss Indonesia wore a swimsuit at the international pageant, although reports differed on whether she was competing or observing. After that, Suharto formally prohibited any Indonesian woman from appearing in any international beauty competition.

In the next two weeks, Artika will decide whether she will compete in the international contest in Thailand.

"We are very optimistic, but we have to be very careful," said Wardiman Djojonegoro, the foundation's chairman. "This is why we'll decide at the last minute."

Artika has worn a swimsuit, even a bikini, since she was 3 years old. Her mother sewed her first one. She grew up on a small island of white sand beaches in the archipelago of Indonesia, and she eventually became a champion in Jet Ski competitions. Artika, who prays every day, said she sees no conflict between Islam and a bathing suit.

Contestant's hope


"Taking part in the Miss Universe contest is a great way to show what Indonesia really is," she said.

She was an accidental beauty pageant winner, tricked into competing in her island's pageant by her mother, who called her at college and said her father was sick. She went home, and her mother, who had deceived her about her father's illness, told her about the pageant. Although Artika initially resisted, unwilling to wear makeup every day, she agreed and won.

At the Miss Indonesia pageant last August, she was one of 36 contestants. The pageant also featured an appearance by Miss Egypt, who competed in the 2004 Miss Universe pageant. Miss Universe was another special guest. The messages were clear: Islam and Miss Universe were not mutually exclusive, and Miss Indonesia belonged on the same stage as Miss Universe.

The Miss Indonesia contestants each wore two dresses--one a traditional dress, one a ball gown--but no swimsuits. The contestants answered questions on everything from eternal love to world conflict.

When her name was announced as the winner, Artika smiled widely.

"God is great," she said.

But the audience members' favorite contestant was someone else, more telling about the person who Indonesians believed represented them. The only woman wearing a modest head scarf--the first in the history of the pageant--won more viewer votes than anyone else.

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[email protected]
 

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there's no free lunch
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Alvin said:
The debate may seem frivolous--especially in Indonesia, with its rampant prostitution and an anything-goes attitude in certain quarters.
Rampant prostitution?

Foreign media often shows their eagerness to give a developing country, like Indonesia, a bad label on it. Rampant prostitution, should only be 'given' to a country --if any in this world-- where you can find prostitution like finding cigarette on the street of Jakarta. Yes prostitution exists in our country but calling it rampant is just exaggerating.
Freedom to express one's opinion does not mean one can say whatever one feels like to say. Responsibility is a must.
 

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Trad Urbanist
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I would agree with the author's point, however. Prostitutes are extremely easy to find in Indonesian cities, especially in certain districts lined with open roadside brothels featuring nude and scantily clad women. Then you take into account the fact that every night these streets are packed with thousands of people. It makes this Miss Indonesia pageant seem a bit trivial, but then again you have to 'keep up appearances.'
 

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there's no free lunch
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Yamauchi said:
Prostitutes are extremely easy to find in Indonesian cities, especially in certain districts lined with open roadside brothels featuring nude and scantily clad women. Then you take into account the fact that every night these streets are packed with thousands of people.
where? in what city? Again I don't deny prostitution exists but.... give me some evidence that it is rampant and extremly easy to find.
 

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Trad Urbanist
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Dolly, Surabaya is the largest prostitute district in Southeast Asia. Sunar, Bali is full of them. In Jakarta most large bars/dance clubs/karaokes have many prostitutes, especially around Blok M. Also, most 3+ star hotels provide services if asked for. It's a sad fact of life that personally makes me a bit sick.
 

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Tata, I would say I agree with that point, as prostitution is very rampant in Indonesia. In shopping mall, you can even get a freelance hooker or something similar.

In Mahakam for example, where the girls are standing in the streets waiting for customers.

Another example are some massages parlours, spa, karaoke and any other...sadly this is the reality in most cities of Indonesia. Sex is becoming a regular business, which generated billion of dollars.

cheers
 

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Very true. I've gotten so many offers whenever I go clubbing when I'm in the country. Gue ngak tauh kenapa, mungkin mereka kira gue orang asing.
 

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Urban Monk
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Ya loh, very rampant and cheap! My friend have fun with two girls in Bandung because it is so much cheaper than in Melbourne. One of them paramitha rushady duplicate. Paid by night, not by half an hour increament as in here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Police arrest Muslim preacher for reciting prayers in Indonesian, Arabic
:weirdo:

JAKARTA (AP): Indonesian police plan have arrested aMuslim preacher for leading daily prayers in both Arabic and Indonesian, a practice mainstream clerics here have condemned as against Islamic teachings, police said Sunday.

Police are planning to charge Yusman Roy with "despoiling an organized religion," a crime that carries a maximum punishment of five years in jail, said Lt. Col. M. Fadli. He was arrested Saturday.

Muslims believe that God revealed their faith to prophet Muhammad in Arabic. Regardless of their proficiency in the language, Muslims worldwide use the language when performing salat, the five-times a day prayer in which verses from the Koran, Islam's holy book, are ritually recited.

Roy, who local media have described as an ex-boxer and convert from Christianity, reads out the Arabic verse followed by an Indonesian translation when leading prayers at his Islamic boarding school in east Java province.

He says he does this so that the worshippers - most of whom do not speak Arabic - understand what they are hearing.

Fadli declined to give any more details about the case. Roy wasnot available for comment Sunday.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has a secular government but strict laws governing religious harmony. It citizens are required to prescribe to one of five state-approved religions.

Mainstream Muslim clerics insist on using Arabic to perform salat because they hold the Koran to be the actual word of God. They believe that translating it would inevitably lead to subtle changes of meaning.

Most non-Arab Muslims use their mother tongue to say personal prayers and read about their faith. Sermons in mosques are normally held in local languages.(*)
 

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One thing that always irked me, the fights that we see on a regular basis on the streets. It not only invovled SD, SMP, and SMA, it also involved other universities. Also as stupid, the fighting in the universities will not occur between universities, but it will occur between different faculties. I suggest that if any student in the university is involved in violent acts on school properties, they should be kicked out immediately. We need to stop these violent actions in our educational world.
 

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Indonesia back in Miss Universe pageant after ban

Good luck girl...

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Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post/Bangkok

The continuing violence in the southern Thailand failed to dampen the festive atmosphere surrounding a parade marking the start of the campaign to pick Miss Universe this year.

Indonesia's Artika Sari Devi, winner of Putri Indonesia (Miss Indonesia) in 2004, was spotted among the cheering crowd on Friday as she warmed up for the beauty contest.

"It is such a rare opportunity to meet and to know contestants from so many countries with their many different ethnicities and cultures," the 25-year old law graduate said.

The Soeharto government banned Indonesian women from competing in the international contest because the swimsuit competition in particular was cited as being against Indonesian culture and religious values. Criticism has somewhat faded -- and Artika says she plans to join the swimsuit session.

"I will wear the one-piece swimsuit instead of the skimpy two-piece one," she told The Jakarta Post at the Royal Navy pier where the parade ended.

Miss Indonesia 1996, Alya Rohali, took part in the Miss Universe event as an observer because she could not take part in the swimsuit event. While she was not in the competition, her attendance at the event still managed to draw some protests at home.

Artika, meanwhile, has repeatedly insisted she would compete in the pageant, arguing it was an opportunity for the world to learn more about Indonesia.

"It is a great opportunity to compete in such an international competition," she said on Friday. "So wish me luck."

The 81 beauties started the parade in floats decorated in the shape of Bangkok's Emerald Buddha temple. They switched to boats on the Chao Phraya River, and ended at the Thai navy's headquarters.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, accompanied by visiting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, was scheduled to host a dinner for the contestants at the Navy Auditorium, on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported on Friday.

The Miss Universe contest, held for the second time in Bangkok, also called "The City of Angels", will end on May 31. Thailand hopes to draw in at least 3.2 billion baht (US$82 million) in free advertising for its tsunami-ravaged tourism industry.

The contestants will spend two weeks in and around Bangkok and make a trip to Phuket in an effort to rebuild the tourism industry there affected by the Dec. 26 tsunami.

Miss Universe 2004 Jennifer Hawkins and contestants will also be involved in charity activities, including an auction on Sunday where each contestant donates a special "country item" to benefit Khun Poom Jensen's Foundation for Tsunami Relief.

Khun Jensen is the grandson of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit who were killed in the tsunami while jetskiing. He is also known in Thailand as a former autistic who recovered and managed to lead a dynamic life.

The contest began the same day as a powerful bomb exploded in the country's restive southern province, killing at least two soldiers and wounding eight, the government said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Our Miss Universe contestant in swimming suit! :D

Miss Egypt and Miss Indonesia by a swimming pool in Thailand's southern tourist city Phuket. Miss Universe contestants descended on the resort islands of Phuket and Phi Phi to check in on post-tsunami reconstruction and remind the world that Thai tourism is back in business.(AFP/Saeed Khan)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
no offence but, if these people have jobs, they wouldn't have time to think, let alone demonstrate, about these things. That's why I want Indonesia to grow fast so that as many ppl as possible - men and women - can enjoy the benefits of employment and rising living standards...one of my obsessions in life :)

Muslim activists denounce Indonesian Miss Universe contestant



JAKARTA (DPA): A group of Muslim activists staged a rally on Friday denouncing the participation of an Indonesian woman in the Miss Universe contest being held in Thailand this month.

Witnesses said about 100 female and male Moslem activists from the Islamic Defender Front (FPI), an Indonesian Islamic hard-line group, staged a protest outside PT Mustika Ratu, a company sponsoring Miss Indonesia in the Miss Universe contest.

The protesters carried banners calling on the Mustika Ratu company not to "destroy the country's moral standards". They also urged Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to oppose Indonesian participation in the beauty contest.

Artika Sari Dewi, 25, who was last year crowned MissIndonesia, is currently in Thailand to take part in theinternational contest, to be held on May 31.

Dewi will become the first Indonesian woman to compete in the pageant since 1996, when former dictator Soeharto barred Indonesian woman from participating.

Dewi is expected to wear a one-piece swimsuit, instead of the skimpy two-piece one, for the contest in which a number of contestants will sport bikinis. (**)
 

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I am not anti Ms Universe. I hope She brings achivement from the Ms Pegeant constest, at least best 10 and/or reaps one of some categories. I hope she can prove to the opponents back home that she is somebody, a woman of value.

If they oppose her in the name of moralty, how about corruption and prostitution which are so rampant? There are still many things to do rather than opposing loudly at Ms Artika.

Go ahead Artika and prove it!
 

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I hope she ll win the contest , and how narrow minded r those people . she s not committing a crime . what abt corruption should Indonesia not be ashame of this.

leave her alone maybe she can make Indonesia proud again.
 

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I Love You Baby
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me muslim, but what the hell is the fuzz all about? c'mon...bunch of hypocrites!!!

go Dewi win this thing!! u sweet..
 
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