Miss Philippines, Megan Young, was crowned Miss World today amid tight security on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali, where the contest’s final round was moved following protests by Muslim hardliner groups.
“I promise to be the best Miss World ever,” Young, 23, said after winning the 63rd annual event, as a large number of Filipino fans who traveled with her celebrated by jumping and waving the country’s flag.
Despite threats from the Islamic Defenders Front to disrupt the contest, police said no rallies were staged Saturday. The group has demonstrated for weeks, calling for the government to cancel the pageant because members say it shows too much skin and goes against Islamic teachings.
The 127 contestants vying for the crown were introduced Saturday wearing evening gowns shimmering in sequins, many of them with plunging necklines and slits up the leg. Four candidates dropped out earlier, mainly due to illnesses, said Syafril Nasution, one of the local organizers.
Young, who took the crown from Wenxia Yu of China, the 2012 winner, was born in the United States. When she was 10 she moved to the Philippines, where she has appeared in films and as a television host.
Miss World organizers had earlier agreed to cut bikinis from the swimsuit competition, replacing them with more conservative sarongs. But pressure continued to mount, and more mainstream groups joined in and called for the show to be banned.
Indonesia’s government announced three weeks ago that the final would be moved from the outskirts of the capital, Jakarta, and instead held on the Hindu-dominated resort island of Bali, where earlier rounds were taking place.
Miss World is the latest controversy in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, where most follow a moderate form of the religion. However, a small extremist fringe has become louder and more violent in recent years, attacking Christians and other religious minorities, along with anyone else deemed immoral.