KUALA LUMPUR - Muslims have been told by religious leaders in Malaysia to stop wearing Manchester United football shirts because the image of the famed red devil in its crest is forbidden in Islam.
The Johor Religious Council adviser and the Mufti of Perak both state that images of crosses, liquor brands and devils on football shirts are forbidden by Islam and should not be worn by Muslims.
Other football shirts deemed unacceptable by the religious leaders include those of Brazil, Portugal, Serbia, Barcelona and Norway because their crests all carry images of a cross.
"There is no excuse for wearing such garments because it means, as a Muslim, you are idolising the symbol of another religion," Datuk Nooh Gadot, the Mufti of Johor, said.
"On this matter there is absolutely no compromise in the name of entertainment, fashion or even sports."
The Mufti of Perak, Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria, said that Muslims wearing such football shirts "leads to a path of sin" because displaying the symbol of another faith means the wearer is prioritising that faith over Islam.
"Yes of course in Islam we don't allow people to wear this sort of thing," he said. "Devils are our enemies, why would you put their picture on you and wear it? You are only promoting the devil."
Manchester United is a hugely popular brand in the Muslim-majority country.
The club's summer tour last year included two games against a Malaysia XI played in front of capacity 40,000 crowds.
It also signed a five-year sponsorship deal with communications group Telekom Malaysia in March, further raising their profile as the leading sports team in the country.