Muslim gymnast receives support after leotard controversy

Muslim gymnast receives support after leotard controversy
Blog: A Malaysian gymnast who won six medals at the Southeast Asian Games has received a deluge of positivity on social media after being criticised for wearing a leotard.
2 min read
22 Jun, 2015
Malaysian Farah Ann Abdul Hadi wins gold in Singapore [Mohd Fyrol/AFP/Getty Images]
A Malaysian gymnast who added two gold medals to her silver and three bronze medals at the Southeast Asian Games last week has been criticised by some social media users for wearing a "revealing outfit" during the competition.

Farah Ann Abdul Hadi, who represented her country in the highly physical sport, has since received a wave of support from fans, including Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

"In gymnastics, Farah wowed the judges and brought home gold. In her deeds only the Almighty judges her. Not you. Leave our athletes alone," the minister tweeted.

Another user, Yaya J. posted: "You've made Malaysians proud, you've made me proud. Congratulations, golden girl."

The support had been sparked not only by Hadi's world-class performance, but by the reaction of some ultra-conservative men, who deemed it appropriate to disparage her efforts by admonishing her choice of outfit.

"If Muslim women want to participate in gymnastics, they have to find outfits which cover the 'aurat' (private parts of their body) and this, in turn, might not be suitable for the sport," Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria, a senior Islamic cleric, reportedly told the Astro Awani newspaper.

Arab men, playing football in shorts, or wrestlers or body-builders - who compete around the world in very tight outfits which leave little to the imagination - face no such mainstream misogyny.

A Facebook page created to support Hadi has won over more than 23,000 followers in the past few days.

The athlete thanked all her supporters, posting to the page herself: "It was such an overwhelming feeling to have had such a positive [response] from all of you."