After furore over Muslim gymnast’s attire, minister says ‘serious’ attention to dress

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said the government would undertake a study on clothing issues following criticism over the outfit used by a champion gymnast. — Picture by Yusuf Mat Isa
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said the government would undertake a study on clothing issues following criticism over the outfit used by a champion gymnast. — Picture by Yusuf Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — A minister today said that the federal government will carry out an in-depth study on Islamic compliance for clothing used for sports and other fields, following criticism over the outfit used by a champion gymnast at the ongoing SEA Games in Singapore.

Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, in charge of Islamic affairs, said there is no denying that it is the responsibility of Muslims regardless of gender to cover their “aurat”, which roughly translates to parts of the body that should not be publicly exposed.

“We take note of this so it becomes a guide, in whatever field including sports for us to take a more in-depth look at clothing on issues that can taint Islam, including Muslim women,” he said in response to a question when winding up points raised during the 11th Malaysia Plan debate.

PAS’ Rantau Panjang MP Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff had asked earlier if Putrajaya has looked into enforcing Shariah compliance in all issues that involve Muslims, zooming in on the recent controversy over gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi’s attire during her gold medal performance.

She stressed that the clothing used by female Muslim athletes that expose their aurat clearly went against sharak or Islamic principles and “is very shameful”.

Several Facebook users had last week slammed the 21-year-old Farah Ann on Buletin TV3’s Facebook page after it uploaded a photograph of her in the gymnastics outfit, along with a caption that announced her winning gold in floor exercise in artistic gymnastics.

The Malay athlete has since received an outpouring of support, however, from Malaysians who pointed out that the athlete should be celebrated for her performance at the games, which not only saw her take home gold, but three bronze medals and a silver in other individual events.

Even former minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz weighed in on the issue, slamming Farah Ann’s critics for being obsessed with athletes’ body shapes and dressing instead of their performances.

“They have a choice. They don’t have to watch the sport and see what, in their personal opinion, is indecent or inappropriate dressing!” Rafidah said in her column in Malay daily Utusan Malaysia.

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