In Malaysia, female Muslims were denied participation in beauty pageants following the issue of a fatwa in 1996 by the Mufti of Selangor. The issue came to a nasty twist in July - September 1997 when four Malay participants joined the Miss Malaysian petite contest, only to be arrested by the authorities. In the ensuing public outcry and debate that followed, the effectiveness of the fatwa was shown given the influence of the Selangor's Mufti over the nation's sharia law. The fatwa resonated with the ideology that Muslim women should cover up private parts of their body, or Aurat of which the beauty pageants' practices ran contrary to - even though such religious enactments also apply to male pageants.
Nevertheless, a public outcry ensued, as members of the public questioned the way the religious authorities handled the matter as well as the abrupt ruling which came about - Muslim women in the past had participated in beauty pageants without much protest amongst the religious authorities. This invoked the concerns of Mahathir's who had raised objections to the way the religious authorities had implemented and enforced the law - and questions including distinctions on religious laws and personal freedom were raised. Nevertheless, the fatwa ruling has since been very effective; Muslim women have since then been deterred from joining any beauty pageants. Malaysian beauty pageants, in compliance with the law, similarly denied Muslim individuals from participating. However, Muslim women may still join smaller scale beauty pageant contests such as Ratu Kebaya, Dewi Remaja, Miss Intercontinental, and Miss Tourism, provided that they don't display publicly wearing swimsuits.