Malaysia Gymnast Issue Energizes Photoshoppers

Last week, a tiny 21-year-old Malaysian gymnast named Farah Ann Abdul Hadi absolutely tore up the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, winning two gold medals and six awards in total.

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The real Farah

But when the young athlete got home, she faced a barrage of criticism for wearing what was regarded as a “revealing” leotard – the same leotard all of her competitors were wearing. That has impelled the Malaysia government to look into "Islamic compliance" of the attires used by sportsmen and women following public criticism over the leotards used by a champion gymnast at the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.

Jamil Khir Baharom, the minister in charge of Islamic Affairs, told reporters it was the responsibility of Muslims, regardless of gender, to cover parts of their body which should not be publicly exposed. The government has tasked Jamil with coming up with a more modest costume.

Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff, an MP for the Islamist opposition party PAS demanded to know if the government is looking into enforcing shariah compliance in all issues that involve Muslims, calling the gymnast’s attire “shameful.”

All of that has caused Malaysia’s Photoshoppers and bloggers to have a ball, coming up with some alternatives.

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Despite the criticism of her gym attire, the Internet has erupted with support for her from Malaysians who say the country should celebrate her performance. Marina Mahathir, the daughter of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, tweeted: “So those people who spend their time looking at an athlete’s private parts, what have they done to bring glory to their country?”

“Regulating sportswear? Have guidelines for ‘perverts’ instead,” tweeted one critic, sports minister @Khairykj says http://buff.ly/1dHM5JM

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Nike Swoosh helps

Rafidah Aziz, former head of the women’s wing of UNO, pointed out that women never complain about male sports attire, even if embarrassing. ““You think the men look good in their swimming trunks? Do we even complain in your skinny swimming trunks? We don’t care as long as you strike gold for the country,” she said during a seminar in Kuala Lumpur this week.