I woke up to the shocking news of four Malay-Muslim contestants Kathrina binti Rizuan, Miera Sheikh, Wafa Johanna De Korte and Sara Amelia Bernard being dropped out of Miss Malaysia World for religious reasons. Regrettably, the contestants affected were dropped out as finalists in the pageant.
The organiser of Miss Malaysia World has allowed Muslim participants from the start. As an alternative to swimsuits, Muslim participants has the option of wearing sportswear during the swimwear competition so as to reduce exposure of skin. Therefore, all contestants should be able to take part in the pageant without bothering their conscience.
Moreover, the grand final of Miss World will be held in Muslim-majority Indonesia.
I share my outrage with the disqualified participants for their hard work all the way from the beginning, only to have their dream crushed at the last minute. Quoting a 'fatwa' banning Muslim women from participating in beauty pageants is questionable in an era we live in currently. It is but a regressive move.
Beauty pageants have evolved to have a charitable function which participants are called to be advocates, ambassadors and perform social work. Moreover, winners of beauty pageants have important role to play in the society. Apart from physical appeal, winners of beauty pageants are judged by how well they carry themselves. To deny Muslim women from taking part in beauty pageants is to deny a share of representation of Muslim women in the society, which in turn undermine the societal role of women.
The move by Federal Territories mufti Datuk Wan Zahidi reeks of blatant double standard and hypocrisy. If he can criticise Muslim women for participating in beauty contests, why has he kept mum for activities that require revealing clothing and very much involved by female Muslims locally - swimming, gymnastics and cheerleading?
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