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Sun, Oct 18, 2009
The Jarkarta Post/ Asia News Network
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Miss Indonesia never wore a headscarf in her life

The criticism she has received for “misrepresenting” her home province of Aceh has failed to discourage newly crowned Putri Indonesia 2009 Qory Sandioriva.

Qory, the first woman representing the strongly Islamic region of Aceh to win the title, made no apology for publicly rejecting the jilbab or Muslim headscarf during the pageant’s final night in Jakarta, playing it down as a “misunderstanding”.

“Perhaps it was a mistake to make such a statement, but honestly I have never worn a jilbab all my life,” the 18-year-old French literature student from the University of Indonesia told Waspada Online during a visit to Medan, North Sumatra, a few days after her win.

Her responses to the judges’ questions have upset many people, particularly religious leaders in her home province.

In the contest’s final stage, she was asked why she was not wearing a headscarf like previous contestants from Aceh.

Responding to the question, she argued that hair represented beauty, and thus should not be covered. Moreover, she said the Aceh governor had personally approved of her appearing without a headscarf.

Aceh is the country’s only province governed under Islamic sharia law, and in September the local legislature endorsed a set of strict Islamic codes, or qanun, including a controversial ruling allowing the caning and stoning to death of adulterers.

Qory insisted she was inspired by Acehnese heroine Cut Nyak Dien, a prominent figure in the resistance movement against Dutch colonial rule back in the 19th century. Aceh was the last territory in the archipelago to fall under Dutch rule.

“[Cut Nyak Dien] never wore a jilbab, but she defended Aceh and Islamic values,” said Qory, a former Jakarta champion of pencak silat, Indonesia’s traditional martial art.

She also played down arguments that not wearing a headscarf made her less Islamic.

“I know Islam is a tolerant religion,” Qory said.

During the final night of the pageant, she was posed with another tricky question: Was the caning and stoning law consistent with human rights and national laws?

This time around, Qory managed to skirt another minefield.

“The qanun should be accepted if that is the wish of the people,” she said.

She won the hearts of the judges with her answers, but more things lay in wait for her off the stage.

“Sandioriva challenged the qanun, therefore she could not have carried the title of Miss Aceh,” Tengku Faisal Aly, secretary of the religious group Aceh Dayah Ulema (HUDA), said as quoted by Waspada Online.

“We were very disappointed with her appearance.”

More controversy stemmed from the fact that Qory was neither born in Aceh nor a resident of the province. She lives in Bekasi, just outside Jakarta.

Qory, however, claimed that her mother came from the Gayo region in Aceh. Besides, she’s not without any supporters from Aceh.

In backing up Qory, anthropologist Teuku Kemal Fasya from Malikus Shalih University in Lhokseumawe told Waspada that the clerics had overreacted.

“This is a beauty pageant,” he said. “She didn’t make any statement against the qanun.”

On her decision not to wear a headscarf, Teuku said it was a personal choice and did not matter whether this represented Aceh women or not.

The controversy might not matter much anymore since Qory is now Putri Indonesia, a title that perhaps befits her birthday on Aug. 17, the same as Indonesia’s Independence Day.

“I know I’ve set off a controversy, but I’m really proud to be the first Acehnese contestant to win Putri Indonesia,” she said.

readers' comments
she got the look and brain... :D
chio bu
Posted by on Mon, 19 Oct 2009 at 11:20 AM
Qory Sandioriva makes no apology for not wearing the jilbab, that is the Muslim headscarf, at the pageant.
View the article here.
Posted by A1Team on Mon, 19 Oct 2009 at 11:10 AM

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