Muslim women's movement Sisters in Islam (SIS) has joined the growing criticism towards Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim over a joke he made during a recent dialogue with students, as Pakatan Harapan (PH) supporters and cybertroopers descended upon a Johor state representative for urging the prime minister to apologise.
Describing Anwar's remark as "inappropriate, unacceptable and unprofessional", SIS said coming from a prime minister, it amounts to normalising sexist attitudes.
"Additionally, the remark is sexist and it undermines and objectifies women. It perpetuates harmful stereotypes, which contribute to a culture of discrimination and inequality.
"The open verbal action of sexist comments, particularly by politicians is deeply concerning.
"When politicians or any individuals in a position of power engage in such behaviour, it sends a negative message to society as it normalises sexist attitudes," it said in a statement.
On Saturday, Anwar, during a dialogue session at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia in Negeri Sembilan, made a joke to a Form 6 student who asked questions on the economy and performance of the ringgit.
Anwar began his answer by praising her on how impeccably she relayed her questions, before saying: "Kalau saya muda, saya dah minta nombor telefon dah (If I were younger, I would have asked your number)."
The remark drew strong responses from social media users as well as Bersatu, although Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek dismissed the criticism by saying Anwar's joke was misunderstood.
It also prompted Muda deputy president Amira Aisya Abdul Aziz, who is also the state representative for Puteri Wangsa in Johor, to demand an apology from the prime minister, only to be followed by attacks from PH supporters and cybertroopers.
SIS said Amira was being subjected to harassment and attacks for "bravely" criticising the prime minister.
"SIS stands in solidarity with Amira and all individuals who have been subjected to sexist comments and harassment.
"We urge for a collective effort to challenge and eradicate sexism in all its forms, fostering a society where every individual is treated with dignity, equality and respect," it added.