Miss World Cancels Bikini Competition After Muslims Object

If a group of Christians objected to a beauty pageant bikini competition they’d be subjected to much snickering and ridicule. They certainly wouldn’t be catered to. But Muslims object, and suddenly we must be sensitive to their views.

Which isn’t to say that we ought to cancel bikini contests when Christians demand it too. Count me in the pro-bikini group, and I’m also of the belief that living in a free society means tolerating things other people do that you may not entirely approve of.

But we seem to have a double standard when it comes to cultural sensitivity. And tolerance. Though, granted, this is taking place in Indonesia, not America.

JAKARTA, INDONESIA Miss World organizers have axed the famed bikinis from this year’s pageant, replacing them with conservative beach sarongs amid mounting protests from hardline Muslim groups.

Indonesia will host the 2013 Miss World competition in the country’s resort island of Bali and the capital, Jakarta, in September.

Adjie S. Soeratmadjie, one of the local organizers, said Thursday that all contestants will be required to wear Bali’s traditional long sarongs instead of the sexy bikinis that are traditionally part of the competition.

CBS is quick to warn, though, that most Mulsims are moderates:

Controversy over the pageant has been mounting in Indonesia, which has a reputation as a tolerant, pluralist society that respects freedom of expression.

Clerics of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, or MUI, said they would send a letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to demand that the beauty pageant be canceled.

“That contest is just an excuse to show women’s body parts that should remain covered,” said Mukri Aji, a prominent cleric from West Java province’s MUI branch. “It’s against Islamic teachings.”

Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, a hardline Islamic group, said it planned to stage a protest and called for the competition to be moved elsewhere.

Most Muslims in Indonesia, a secular country of 240 million people, are moderate, but a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.

The problem is that extremist fringe might kidnap you and cut your head off if you offend them. Or bomb your beauty pageant. And said extremists are allowed to operate within the “moderate” Islamic world.

Many seem to define tolerance as bowing to the outrage of certain groups. Like Muslims. Or atheists, when it comes to public religious displays. But shouldn’t a free society embrace tolerance from the side of permissiveness? Meaning, shouldn’t we seek to allow more stuff to happen (like religious displays in public, bikini competitions, etc.) and then expect the perpetually outraged to, you know, tolerate whatever outrages them?

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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