Anger over ban on ‘devil’ shirts

(AFP) – MANCHESTER United’s fans in Malaysia erupted in astonishment and anger on social media on Thursday after clerics warned Muslims against wearing the team’s famous jersey with its ‘devil’ emblem.

Manchester United and the rest of the English Premier League are hugely popular in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where conservative religious leaders said the jersey was un-Islamic and should be banned.

Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook were flooded with comments from fans in the South-east Asian nation.

‘Maybe the religious leaders are just fans of Liverpool?’ quipped one supporter on Twitter.

‘Why this become an issue after Manchester United has won the title for 11 times? They haven’t been watching the matches all this while?’ said Sharifah Shahidah, a die-hard Manchester United fan of two-decades standing.

‘What am I gonna do with all my Man Utd jerseys? And my sons’ jerseys?’ Ms Sharifah, a Muslim mother of two and an IT programmer, asked on her Twitter account. ‘Should I cover the emblem with a picture of flower?’

Malaysian clerics said on Wednesday that Muslims must not wear the iconic red jersey because devils should be shunned, not celebrated, and urged those who had worn the garment to ‘repent immediately’.