PETALING JAYA, July 30 — Stakeholders are up in arms over reports that the fatwa council will discuss the involvement of Muslim women in competitive gymnastics and swimming.
Penang mufti Hassan Ahmad was quoted by Sinar Harian as saying the matter will be discussed during the three-day National Fatwa Council committee meeting in September following complaints of double standards over the fatwa (edict) barring Muslim women from joining beauty pageants.
This came about after four Muslim women were barred from participating in the Miss Malaysia World Pageant by the religious authorities.
Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Imran Tuanku Jaafar said women have the right to compete in sports.
“Women can choose what they want to compete in. It’s not a beauty contest. They are in for sporting pursuits and I believe it is two different issues altogether,” said Tunku Imran.
OCM secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi questioned the need for the council to discuss such a matter in the first place.
“What is their real intention? Is it because of the clothing? Is it because of sport or is the council trying to satisfy the beauty contestants?” Sieh said.
“In gymnastics, most of them are already wearing leotards. Some international federations are relaxed with the attire of the contestants but some insist they have to wear a certain attire like beach volleyball.”
Sieh said it was baffling to why only gymnastics and swimming were singled out.
“There’s netball, hockey and also athletics (where athletes wear short skirts or tight fitting attire). I hope the powers-that-be will be able to clear the air and state their intention. In Iran, there’s a women-only tournament while sports manufacturers can come up with suitable attire if clothing is an issue.”
“The council should think such matters thoroughly. One cannot say this can be done or that cannot be done without justification.”
Malaysian Gymnastics Federation secretary N. Shanmugarajah said it will be a big loss if Muslim women were barred from the sport as there are many talented Muslim gymnasts in the country.
“The athletes wear such attire for sporting purpose. Look at it in a sporting manner,” said Shanmugarajah.
A former national gymnastics coach, who did not wish to be identified, said it was illogical to ban Muslims from competing.
“Please don’t kill the game,” she pleaded.
“We are trying our best to comply with Islamic law as the Muslim gymnasts wear leotards. It is a tactical sport and they need to wear tight clothing to execute moves.”
Among Muslim athletes who have done the nation proud are gymnasts Farah Ann Abdul Hadi, her sister synchronised swimmer Katrina Ann, gymnasts Durratun Nasihin, former rhythmic gymnasts Faiznur Miskin and El Regina Tajuddin and swimmer Nurul Huda Abdullah