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Michelle Leslie - please explain

By Salam Zreika - posted Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Model Michelle Leslie must be ecstatic (pardon the pun) that she is finally free from Bali’s Kerobokan jail.

Despite being found guilty of carrying two ecstasy tablets in her Gucci handbag, I was more intrigued with her sudden personal life declaration - converting or as they say, reverting to Islam.

Being Muslim myself I was quite critical of her conversion. Was it true? Could such a beautiful model, who normally struts her stuff on the catwalk in a bikini, give all that up for modesty and God? Critical I continued to be until I saw her picture in the papers and on television in a Muslim-style burqua. Actually I was shocked and thought it was a little too extreme and was convinced she did it to get the sympathy and respect of the court. I mean, who wouldn’t when a maximum jail sentence of 15 years was possible?


I was still doubtful until her friends and family came out and declared it was true. Michelle Leslie had been living with a nice Muslim family and had converted to Islam long before she was found guilty of drug charges. If this is the case then why did Michelle only decide to “cover up” until she was in a Bali prison with the prospect of an extended jail term?

OK, so finally I succumbed and thought, “Wow, this is fantastic, Michelle Leslie has converted to Islam for its great ways, despite all the nonsense people say about it these days”.

As I continued to watch her case on the news I was probably more in awe of her beauty than anything else. I mean, who wasn’t? However it also occurred to me that she no longer wore the burqua. Well fair enough, that is even a little extreme for me. Instead she came out wearing a jilbab (long, black, modest Muslim dress) lovely black hair partly showing.

I guess you can say as her confidence with the case grew, so did her old ways. At this point I was still convinced she was Muslim: to start off by wearing a burqua was over the top, so it was clear to me she had toned down in dress to suit herself, not to mention the Bali weather.

Three months on, Michelle Leslie is free and by the time this is printed, Michelle will be safely at home among family and friends. That’s all fantastic but I could not hide my shock, anger and disbelief that the latest release of pictures have been of her in fitted jeans and skimpy singlet tops, revealing a lot more than her modest “Bali times” jilbab.

Has Michelle been ridiculing the courts and Muslims just to get a sympathy vote all the time? Despite being found guilty, she still stuck to her Muslim appearance until she was freed and back to being the model that she is.


Now that she is out and back to her normal life, there has been no mention of her conversion to Islam or how she plans to tackle fitting her current way of life to this modest religion.

The media seem more concerned with her future wedding to millionaire boyfriend, Scott Sutton. Well I only have two things left to say here: one - “Michelle, congratulations on getting out” and two - “while you are on the hunt to sell your story to the highest bidder, don’t forget to mention the truth behind your conversion,” or in Pauline Hanson’s famous words, “Please explain” as there is a whole community that does not deserve to be snubbed.

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First published in The Australian on November 22, 2005.

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About the Author

Salam Zreika is a freelance journalist. She has written for a community paper called FAIR (Forum on Australian Islamic Relations). Salam graduated from the University of Western Sydney in May 2003, with a Bachelor of Communication - majoring in Journalism. She completed her cadetship with the Northern District Times.

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