Thousands back M'sian gymnast over outfit row
On the floor, she wowed judges with her skills.
But off the floor, critics slammed Malaysia's Southeast Asian Games gold medallist Farah Ann Abdul Hadi - saying they could see the shape of her "aurat" (genitalia) in her leotard.
They also criticised the 21-year-old Muslim for not covering up.
Her supporters sprang into action over the weekend (June 13), setting up a Facebook page "Farah Ann Abdul Hadi For Malaysia" to extol the gymnast’s achievements and criticise those attacking her over the games attire.
The gymnast herself is one of the page administrators.
By this afternoon (June 15), more than 12,000 people had "liked" the page.
The gymnast, who won six medals in total at the SEA Games in Singapore, wrote:
"I would just like to express my sincerest gratitude to all of you who have been supporting me.
"It is such an overwhelming feeling to have had such a great and positive respond (sic) from all of you."
Farah Ann has garnered broad support in the controversy, including from Malaysia's youth and sports minister.
In response to her critics, Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted:
"In gymnastics Farah wowed the judges and brought home gold.
"In her deeds only the Almighty judges her. Not you. Leave our athletes alone."
Those who defended her also questioned if she should wear a robe and headscarf when competing.
However, divisions remain.
One Malaysian Islamic group reportedly called for guidelines to help female Muslim athletes stay shariah law-compliant when they compete.
"Women should not be stopped from sports, but they must prioritise the Islamic codes in sports attire," said Roszida Kamaruddin, head of the female wing of the National Muslim Youth Association, according to the Malay Mail.
"Furthermore, there are many Muslim female athletes who succeed even by covering their aurat."
Sources: Malay Mail Online, Malaysian Insider, The Rakyat Post, malaysiakini, Facebook, Twitter, AFP
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