Hardline Muslims burn effigies of Miss World backers

Hardline Islamists in Indonesia have burnt effigies of Miss World beauty pageant organisers and branded them "infidels" during an angry protest ahead of Sunday's show.

Hundreds of protesters in traditional Islamic skullcaps and robes marched through the nation's capital Jakarta on Friday.

The 700-strong crowd gathered at the head office of MNC media group, which will broadcast the show and is the local organiser, brandishing banners reading "From infidels, by infidels, to ruin Indonesia".

Some demonstrators used red spray-paint to write "pimp's office" on the building surrounded by barbed wire and heavily guarded by police.

Chanting in Arabic, the crowd staged a mock trial of MNC chief Hary Tanoesoedibjo and Bali governor I Made Mangku Pastika, and burnt straw effigies of the pair.

"We will fight until the last drop of our blood is spilled," one protester shouted to the chanting crowd.

Hundreds of hardliners also took to the streets in other major cities across Indonesia, including Bandung on the main island of Java, Medan on Sumatra island, and Banjarmasin on Indonesian Borneo.

Nana Putra, from MNC and the head of the local Miss World organising committee, defended the contest saying it did not run counter to Indonesian Muslim culture.

She says the protests sent a bad image of Indonesia to the world.

More than 120 contestants have already arrived for the pageant.

While there is little danger of protests in Hindu-majority Bali, hardliners have vowed to stage huge demonstrations when the final takes place outside Jakarta on September 28.

Anger has been mounting despite an attempt by the British-based organisers to appease radicals by dropping the famed bikini round from the contest this year, with contestants instead set to wear more conservative sarongs.

A vocal hardline group has succeeded in getting events cancelled in the past.

Last year, pop sensation Lady Gaga axed a concert after hardliners threatened to burn down the venue and criticised her for wearing only "a bra and panties".