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Miss World axes bikini in Muslim Indonesia

The 137 women taking part in the September contest will swap bikinis for more conservative attire, such as traditional sarongs, for the beach fashion section. 

The contest is being held on the resort island of Bali, where foreign tourists flock in their millions and the beaches are packed with women sunbathing in skimpy swimwear.

But Miss World Organisation chairwoman Julia Morley insisted that none of the pageant's contestants would wear a bikini. "I don't want to upset or get anyone in a situation where we are being disrespectful," she told AFP from London.

"We treasure respect for all the countries that take part in the pageant," she said, adding the final outfits had not yet been finalised. Organisers are treading carefully after a number of music acts to recently visit Indonesia provoked controversy due to performers' outfits.

Last year pop sensation Lady Gaga was forced to cancel her concert in Indonesia after Muslim hardliners threatened to burn down the venue and criticised her for only wearing "a bra and panties".

Singer Beyonce and band The Pussycat Dolls were also asked to cover up before performing in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation.

The upcoming Miss World pageant, to be held in Bali and Bogor just outside Jakarta, has already stirred anger with the country's top Muslim clerical body, the Indonesian Ulema Council, which has called for its cancellation.

However, organisers insisted that the decision to axe bikinis was taken when the agreement was first struck to hold the event in Indonesia and that they had not changed their plans following complaints.

"We discussed the beach fashion issue last year with Miss World in London before we even agreed to host the event because we knew this would be sensitive in Indonesia," said Nana Putra from media group MNC, the official broadcaster and local organiser.

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