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SpongeBob sends Muslims Ramadan message in traditional Malay attire Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

SpongeBob sends Muslims Ramadan message in traditional Malay attire

SpongeBob's Ramadan message was retweeted over 100,000 times [Twitter/ Screenshot]

Date of publication: 24 April, 2020

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From the depths of the Pacific Ocean, SpongeBob had a special message for those beginning the fasting month.

Popular children's television character SpongeBob SquarePants shared a special Ramadan message on Thursday, sparking a flurry of 
thrilled responses from Muslims around the world.

From the Nickleodeon cartoon's official Twitter page, the show's creators shared a picture of SpongeBob and his starfish sidekick Patrick with the message "Ramadan Mubarak".

"Wishing everyone a Happy Ramadan!" read the tweet, which was reposted over 150,000 times.

Many were quick to thank the Bikini Bottom resident for his kinds words.

"Thank you brother Sponge Bob," wrote US comedian Hasan Minhaj in response, echoing a joke making the rounds on Twitter that the joyful sea sponge had become a Muslim.

"Don’t need a moon to confirm it’s Ramadan cuz Spongebob just confirmed it," joked another Twitter user.

Amid the waves of jokes and memes, however, were more sobering reminders of how rare such positive messages relating to Muslims are.

“This is the type of media representation Muslims have been waiting for,” Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of US Muslim political action committe Emgage, was quoted by The Arab Daily News as saying.

“It is incredible how far a simple depiction of Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Star celebrating Ramadan can go in making Muslim Americans feel seen, heard, included, and embraced in American media," he added.

Malaysian or Indonesian?

While many were overjoyed by SpongeBob's gesture, others were busy debating about the details of the origins of the yellow sea sponge's Ramadan outfit, which appeared to be a traditional Malay Baju Melayu.

The appearance of the Southeast Asian costume, which consists of a matching top and trousers with an intricately-patterened waist wrap, re-opened an old cultural ownership debate between Southeast Asian neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia.

Read also: Ramadan 2020: Keeping the faith in times of adversity

Some insisted that SpongeBob's clothes were from Malaysia, while others claimed his outfit was in fact of Indonesian origin.

"Heii spongebob this is bcause of your cloths [sic] that malaysia and indonesia were fights [sic] in comments section," joked one Twitter user.

"Quit the arguing. The clothes are known as Baju Melayu or Malay Cloth in Malaysia, and there are Malays in Indonesia too. Ramadhan Kareem, Spongebob x Patrick!" wrote another, bringing focus back to the sea sponge cartoon's positive message.

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