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Miss Philippines crowned Miss World amid Muslim anger

Hundreds of Islamic radicals held a prayer session to express their anger at the contest being held in Indonesia as the event went ahead with stepped-up security.

Megan Young of the Philippines smiles after being named Miss World 2013
Megan Young of the Philippines smiles after being named Miss World 2013
Image: Firdia Lisnawati/AP/Press Association Images

MISS PHILIPPINES HAS been crowned Miss World 2013 in a glittering finale on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, amid tight security following weeks of hardline Muslim protests.

Hundreds of Islamic radicals held a prayer session in a mosque near the capital to express their anger, while Megan Young wept as she won the coveted title on Hindu-majority Bali at the end of a three-week contest.

The 23-year-old, wearing a pearl white gown, promised to be “the best Miss World ever” in front of a cheering crowd, which included many Filipinos, in a venue guarded by heavily armed police and water cannons.

The final was moved to Bali, where there is little hardline influence, from its original venue just outside the capital Jakarta after thousands of protesters took to the streets across the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

Denouncing the pageant as a “whore contest” and “pornography”, the demonstrators pressured authorities into shifting the venue, the latest sign of the growing influence of country’s hardline fringe.

Police

Hundreds of police were deployed across Bali for Saturday’s final, which saw 127 contestants clad in stilettos and shimmering gowns take to the stage in the Nusa Dua resort, southern Bali.

The contestants were quickly whittled down to six. Then, they faced a question-and-answer round before the winner was announced in a contest broadcast to more than 180 countries.

Young, the first ever Philippine Miss World, took the crown from last year’s winner, China’s Yu Wenxia.

Young, who is studying digital media and also presents TV shows in the Philippines, pledged to “just be myself in everything I do, to share what I know and to educate people”.

France’s Marine Lorphelin was second, while Ghana’s Carranzar Naa Okailey Shooter came in third.

Extemists

Adding to security concerns in the run-up to the final, the American, British and Australian embassies had warned that extremists might attack the pageant.

Bali has suffered extremist attacks before, notably in 2002 when bombings killed more than 200 people, most of them foreign tourists.

But Saturday’s finale passed off smoothly, with no new protests or security scares — despite a pledge by prominent hardline group the Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI) to stage demonstrations.

Hundreds of members of the FPI and other hardline groups limited themselves to holding a prayer session in a mosque in Sentul, just outside the capital Jakarta, to express their opposition to the pageant.

While the popularity of Miss World, first held in 1951, has waned in the West, continued interest in Asian countries ensures that the final rakes in a huge global television audience.

© AFP, 2013

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