Muslim Malaysian gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi gave a spectacular performance at the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore. In fact, she took home six medals – including two gold medals – for her agility and graceful routine. But instead of praising her triumph, some of her countrymen slammed the athlete for her outfit choices.
While conservative groups in the Muslim majority country criticized her for breaking Islamic dress code by wearing a leotard – a customary costume for gymnasts all over the world – people on Facebook vilified her for exposing her “aurat” (genitalia) by wearing an “obscene” and “revealing” outfit during the international sports event.
“If Muslim women want to participate in gymnastics, they have to find outfits which cover the ‘aurat’ and this, in turn, might not be suitable for the sport,” said senior Islamic cleric Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria, suggesting that gymnastics is not an appropriate sport for Muslim women.
The head of the female wing of the National Muslim Youth Association in Malaysia, Roszida Kamaruddin, reportedly said: "Women should not be stopped from sports, but they must prioritize the Islamic codes in sports attire.”
However, despite the overwhelming criticism, thousands of sports fans and fellow Muslims have spoken out in support of the 21-year-old – including Malaysia’s Minister for Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin, who commended Hadi for making the nation proud.
In gymnastics Farah wowed the judges and brought home gold. In her deeds only the Almighty judges her. Not you. Leave our athletes alone.— Khairy Jamaluddin (@Khairykj) June 12, 2015
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Hadi, on the other hand, has also remained defiant throughout the controversy.
Empty cans make the most noise— Farah Ann Abdul Hadi (@farahannhadi) June 12, 2015
A Facebook group supporting the athlete has garnered over 17,000 likes in a matter of days. Her supporters have declared themselves as "FARAHnatics" and have posted tons of encouraging messages and praises on the page called “Farah Ann Abdul Hadi For Malaysia.”
“I would just like to express my sincerest gratitude to all of you who have been supporting me,” Abdul Hadi wrote on the page, thanking her loyal supporter. “It is such an overwhelming feeling to have had such a great and positive respond from all of you.”
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