Pageant-winner Qori Sandioriva has sparked controversy in Aceh.
Banda Aceh. The Aceh government said on Friday that it would not let recently crowned Putri Indonesia Qori Sandioriva represent the province as she had failed to comply with the conditions set for her to be allowed to enter the competition.
Qori, 18, who was born in Jakarta but has an Acehnese mother, beat out 37 other contestants from across the country to win the Putri Indonesia pageant earlier this month and will thus represent Indonesia at the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant.
But a spokesman for the Aceh government, Abdul Hamid Zein, said they had told the Miss Indonesia Foundation that they would only support Qori’s representation of the province provided that she promoted Acehnese culture and norms, including observance of Shariah law.
“We will not let Qori use the Aceh name in her activities [as Putri Indonesia], especially at the Miss Universe Pageant — [she must] never mention the name of Aceh,” he said.
Senior Aceh clerics have also denounced Qori for “bringing shame” to the province by abandoning its conservative Muslim values, particularly for not wearing a jilbab , or headscarf, during the competition.
Under its special autonomous status, Aceh has imposed partial Shariah law since 2001.
Zein said the provincial government regretted Qori’s actions, and was planning to meet with her and with Miss Indonesia Foundation officials in the near future to discuss the reasons why she did not follow the terms they had set.
According to Zein, the pageant selection process was handled by a national committee and event organizers established in each province. However, as there was no event organizer in Aceh, the foundation approached several Acehnese women in Jakarta.
Zein said the foundation then sent a letter to the Aceh governor to ask for his and the province’s tourism and cultural office’s support.
“Based on several considerations, the office gave its approval, but set terms to be followed by Qori and the foundation,” he said. “From the start, the Aceh government had reminded Qori and the foundation to obey the terms of the recommendation.”
Although Zein acknowledge that government had no authority over Qori’s actions, he did say it was reasonable to expect Qori to respect the culture of the province that she was representing, particularly after they had given her their support.
On Thursday, dozens of students from Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh held a demonstration at the Aceh governor’s office, urging him to withdraw the support given to Qori.
Echoing the sentiments of the Aceh clerics, the protesters said her appearance at the competition did not reflect the Islamic nature of the province or comply with the region’s strict Shariah regulations.