MALAYSIA - First, it was the Muslim women beauty pageant participants who were dropped from competing.
Now the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has said that banning only women amounts to "double standards".
Their take? Also ban Muslim men from participating in bodybuilding competitions, Federal Territory PAS Youth information chief Yusapiza Yaacob said in a statement.
Mr Yusapiza pointed out that the religion also prohibits the exposure of aurat (body) by men, liberal news portal Malaysiakini reported.
While praising the government's stance in prohibiting Muslim women from participating in beauty pageants, he said: "The banning of exposing the aurat (body) for women is the same as the exposing (of) the aurat for men. What more if it is for public viewing and contest.
"Let us not place aurat restrictions merely on women. The Islamic religious council, muftis and others should be firm in carrying out syariah obligations without prejudice."
He was referring to the recent case in which four Muslim finalists were dropped from the Miss World Malaysia 2013 by pageant organisers to avoid contravening a 1997 fatwa (religious edict) barring Muslim participation in beauty pageants. Mr Yusapiza said that in Islam, aurat for women refers to the whole body, with the exception of the face and palm of the hands, while for men, it refers to the part of the body between the navel and knees.
He said bodybuilding is not very different from beauty pageants as both require clothing which clearly exposes the aurat and is viewed by the public, with men having to wear nothing but underwear when competing.
"Why are there double standards between the two competitions?" he asked.
Miss World Malaysia organisers had last Thursday met the Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi) officials to appeal against the ban. But Jawi rejected it.
The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Mr Jamil Khir Baharom, said the National Fatwa Council still deems it "haram" or forbidden for Muslim women to take part in beauty pageants, even if they do not parade in swimwear.
The four contestants may be charged if found guilty.
This year's Miss World Malaysia pageant will be held in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.
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