When British blogger Amena Khan became the only hijab-wearing model to front L’Oreal’s haircare campaign, fans and fashion bloggers applauded.
However, days later Amena, who runs the Pearl Daisy fashion blog, quit the campaign after right-wing media outlets published her tweets from 2014, in which she criticised Israel’s war in Gaza.
Condemning the war, in which more than 2,250 Palestinians were massacred, the vast majority of them civilians, the blogger described Israel as “an illegal state”. Another tweet mentioned that Israel was a “sinister state & the ones who suffer most are innocent children.”
Stepping down after the posts on the social media site resurfaced online, Khan also deleted the tweets and issued a statement saying she “regrets” posting them. She also deleted footage of the campaign from her Instagram.
But as one Twitter user questioned why the American president was allowed to describe countries as “s***holes, why is a model criticised for tweets she wrote years ago, we ask if Miss Khan was she right to step down.
Gulf-based Haytham Smadi said he didn’t believe the tweets were too offensive and it’s “pathetic” that she issued a retraction.
He said: “It's a shame that she stepped down, but it’s even more shameful that she backed off on her stance on the Israeli occupation. I think she lost both sides. She should have been stronger than this – now she’s lost everything.”
Tahir Iqbal fears that people are beginning to question whether criticising Israel makes them anti-Semitic and it’s a tactic used by the pro-Israel lobby to silence those who try to speak out to defend Palestine.
He said: “I think we live in a world where having any opinion that differs from the mainstream agenda makes you a target and you have to be brought down. The only one of those tweets that you could deem offensive is the last one, where she wants the downfall of Israel. However, is being anti the State of Israel racist? No. Is it anti-Semitic? No. People make the "with us or against us" argument but the world isn't black and white like that. The pro-Israel lobby want to conflate the issues and make Jews and Israel the same and they are not.”
UAE-based entrepreneur Miranda Davidson also believes Amena was wrong to step down and delete her tweets.
The founder of casting and acting studio Miranda Davidson Studios, is a passionate supporter of the Palestinian cause and believes Amena was “bullied”.
She says: “She stated facts and expressed her concern about these facts - the undeniable acts of oppression and violations of international law against the Palestinian people. She was not only bullied into retracting but also that she felt she needed to succumb to the bulling with a retraction.”
American-born Miranda says everyone has a right to stand up for what they believe.
She added: “Amena has a right to stand against injustice if this is her core belief and if she had said this about any oppressive Arab state or maybe even a European state this would have never been an issue.
“I would have preferred she had used this platform to continue to expose the truth behind the illegal and immoral acts of apartheid and illegal occupation the Israeli government implements rather then backed down. She made no untrue statements and she has a right to her opinions based on her own ethical judgements and should not be punished for them. They were not racist or prejudice to anything other than violent injustice. This is a classic case of gas lighting and it's becoming an epidemic that is prevalent in the Israel/ Palestine conversation. I hope she finds the strength to still speak her truth without being bullied or punished in the future.”