Much ado about nothing?

KUALA LUMPUR: In the wake of the furore over a Malaysian student’s alleged same-sex marriage in a foreign country, another controversy has erupted after a Malaysian student in Scotland appeared in photos online looking very different from when she was a top SPM scorer in Malaysia.


Nur Amalina Che Bakri came to the nation’s attention in 2004 when she scored 17 A1s in her SPM exams.


In photos that appeared in newspapers at the time, she covered her hair.


Recently, however, photos have spread online, allegedly from Nur Amalina’s Facebook page, showing a young woman without a headscarf, her hair dyed blonde, wearing lace leggings. In one photo, she is shown embracing a young man.


The images of Nur Amalina, who is studying both medicine and pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh, caused a sensation in Malaysian social media.


One Twitter user wrote, “Dear Amalina Che Bakri, you are totally out from my people-I-respect-the-most-list.”


“I feel sorry for Amalina because she has changed to worst,” wrote another. “May Allah bless her. I hope she will return to the path. Amin.”


There were also many tweets defending Nur Amalina.


One Twitter user wrote that Nur Amalina “may be free hair now,but she may be also better than thousand girls out there who are wearing tudung.”


“I am so sad how nasty Malaysians can be over one person’s personal choices,” said another. “Leave Amalina alone.”


Blogger Rayyan Haries wrote on January 2: “Agreed that as a Muslim women, she should cover her aurat and present herself well. But she is an adult and she should be the one deciding her life. And please don’t tell me that she is the only one facing this culture shock thingy.”


Writing at My News Hub, Zamzukhairi Noordin said, “If the allegation is true that the girl in the pictures is Nur Amalina, the people of this nation definitely have no right to judge her appearance or what kind of clothes she wears and so on.”


“Nevertheless, I am certain many would want Nur Amalina to maintain her old image and that the daughter of Che Bakri must cover up despite being far away from her family in Malaysia,” Zamzukairi wrote, adding that he thought Malaysians should “pray that Nur Amalina achieve success in her studies abroad and ask that she return to her original image as a noble Malay girl who has strong Islamic principles.”


Blogger Tekkaus said he wasn’t even sure what was controversial about the photos in the first place.


“It is not like she is wearing a bikini or something,” he wrote. “I mean what’s wrong with her clothes? She is not scantily clad right?”


While Nur Amalina has remained silent on the matter, and has deleted her Facebook page, some bloggers have posted what they claim was a response from her, in which she said, “I don’t care what people say about me as I wear my pain every day.”


Nur Amalina’s mother, Sabariah Hassan, has been more vocal in responding to Nur Amalina’s critics.


Sabariah Hassan said was aware that her daughter did not wear a headscarf, and that she had only covered her hair while she was a student in Malaysia. She said her daughter was not “wild” and that she was doing well in her studies.


Commenting on Sabariah’s remarks, Mohd Shubhi wrote in his blog Warta Shubhi that Nur Amalina’s continued success in her studies shows that she’s still on the right track.



About the author

Jordan MacVay