PUTRAJAYA (July 11, 2007): Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minster, a Muslim woman with a martial-arts black-belt, likes to lead by example: she does not wear a headscarf and insists that Muslim sportswomen do not have to cover up either.
Datuk Azalina Othman Said, 43, believes women offer the best chance of glory for a modern Muslim nation hungry for sporting success - but in trying to encourage more girls to take up sports, she is quietly holding the line against conservative Islam.
Wearing a tracksuit-top and pants, Azalina told Reuters in an interview in her office yesterday that Muslim sportswomen were free here to dress just like their non-Muslim rivals, whether in the pool, on the diving board or in the gymnastics arena.
"It's never become an issue in Malaysia," she said, declaring that women of all ages should, and do, feel free in this country to "wear shorts and jump around".
"I mean we have Muslim gymnasts wearing tights and it's never crossed anyone's mind about how athletes are dressed. I am quite thankful that the people of Malaysia are still open-minded." more..