Miss World final round moves to Bali

Resort island only non-Muslim dominated province

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Indonesia's government has moved the final round of the Miss World pageant from main Java island to the resort island of Bali amid protests by hard-line Muslims against the contest, an official said Saturday.

The decision, announced by Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono, makes Bali the sole location for the event, which opens Sunday.

The final round was initially set for Sept. 28 in Sentul, on the outskirts of Jakarta, the capital.

 "The changes are made in accordance with people's aspirations and for the sake of Indonesia's tourism development," Laksono told a news conference. "So the event will be held completely in Bali."

Bali is the only Hindu-dominated province in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country.

Laksono said, however, that the contestants would not be prevented from visiting other parts of the country.

Muslim hard-line groups have protested in Jakarta and other cities, urging the government to cancel the contest.

Rejection of the event has also come from the country's most influential clerics' group, the Indonesia Ulema Council, which argues that exposure of skin by women in such a competition violates Islamic teachings.

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