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Muslim clerics support attire of teen tennis star

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Top Muslim clerics supported India's teen tennis sensation Sania Mirza, days after a Muslim group in her hometown issued a religious edict describing her short skirts and sleeveless shirts as un-Islamic.

"What Sania wears in (the) tennis court is the demand of the game," said Khalid Rashid of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which arbitrates religion-related issues for the nation's more than 160 million Muslims.

"Perhaps, the fatwa (edict) was issued to gain cheap publicity," Rashid told The Associated Press.

Last week the Sunni Ulema Board, a little-known group in Mirza's hometown of Hyderabad, issued the edict saying Islam did not permit women to wear skirts, shorts and sleeveless tops in public, so Mirza should cover up.

Newspaper reports quoted the Sunni Ulema Board's chief, Hasheeb-ul-Siddiqui, saying he was worried Mirza was becoming a role model for young Muslim girls.

The 18-year-old Muslim tennis player, the first Indian woman to break into the top 50 WTA rankings, dismissed the fatwa.

Mirza was ousted from the U.S. Open in the fourth round, becoming India's first woman player to make it that far in any Grand Slam event. She has a growing following across India.