Malaysian model sparks outrage after launching hijab range at Kuala Lumpur nightclub
Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor, an actress and social media influencer with over five million Instagram followers, held the launch of her new 'Be Lofa' turban and shawl range at the popular Zouk nightclub.
The 29-year-old's choice of venue outraged Malaysians in the Muslim-majority country, prompting a social media storm.
"You're mocking your own religion for the sake of your business and marketing," wrote one Twitter user, echoing the anger felt by many after images and footage of the event were shared on social media.
Performers at the launch were also accused by Netizens of dancing suggestively as part of a lip-sync battle that took place.
Weighing in on the isssue, the mufti of Malaysia's Federal Territories, Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, issued a statement saying that the hijab is "a symbol of modesty, and dignity of a Muslim woman that should be preserved."
At the same time, al-Bakri also warned those who were offended by Neelofa's choice to temper their frustration.
"Embarrassing, humiliating and slandering her does not reflect the characteristics of a Muslim," he wrote.
Others, however, spoke out to defend the social media star.
"If I were a woman the only reason I would be offended is if I wasn't invited - I'd be wondering why," wrote Malaysian comedian Harith Iskander on Facebook.
"As a man I'd feel offended when I realise that my life is so empty ... Because I had time to be offended by something that has nothing to do with me and doesn't affect my life one bit," he added.
After initially defending her choice, Neelofa issued an apology on Wednesday, saying that her company will "put greater attention in the future to make sure we protect the image of hijab".
She also thanked the mufti for his advice, saying that she accepted his counsel with "humility and an open heart".
In a seperate statement, Neelofa's sister Noor Nabila pledged that the company would prioritise religious and cultural concerns in future.
She also reiterated earlier statements saying that alcohol was not consumed at the launch, stressing that refreshments served were in accordance with Islamic dietary requirements.
"Access to bars and other sections in the club was also closed and smoking was strictly prohibited," Noor Nabila said.
"We also hired a caterer from outside to serve halal food. All utensils including spoons, forks and glasses were provided by the caterer," she added.Calculated controversy?
Despite the stir caused by Neelofa's nightclub launch, sales of the fashionista's new Be Lofa range appear to have been boosted.
The model's new Be Lofa Turban line sold out in less than 24 hours after the Zouk launch night.
This has led some to question whether the controversial choice of venue was a simple miscaculation or a clever marketing ploy.
Selling in 38 countries worldwide, Naelofar Hijab is one of Malaysia's most popular modest fashion brands, targeting young Muslim women who wear the religious head covering.
The brand's success has won its founder, Neelofa, a number of accolades, including recognition in Forbes' 30 under 30 Asia 2017 list for retail and e-commerce.