Amena Khan quits L’Oreal campaign after Israel backlash

British video blogger steps down after right-wing outlets publish old tweets criticising Israel’s war on Gaza.

Amena Khan [L''Oreal]
Amena Khan posted tweets critical of Israel's war in Gaza [L'Oreal promotional material]

Just days into her role, a British Muslim model has quit a major beauty brand’s campaign after right-wing media outlets published her tweets from 2014, in which she criticised Israel’s war in Gaza.

Amena Khan, who runs the Pearl Daisy fashion blog, became L’Oreal’s only hijab-wearing model to front its haircare campaign, less than a week ago.

Fashion bloggers and fans on Twitter had lauded L’Oreal’s inclusion of Khan, but racists and Islamophobes sent her abuse on social media.

Right-wing US media outlet, the Daily Caller, unearthed Khan’s tweets from 2014 condemning Israel’s war in Gaza, in which more than 2,250 Palestinians were massacred, the vast majority of them civilians.

The story was picked up by far-right social media activists and on Monday, Khan announced her resignation over the controversy. 

“I deeply regret the content of the tweets I made in 2014, and sincerely apologise for the upset and hurt that they have caused,” said Khan, who is from the central English town of Leicester.

“Championing diversity is one of my passions, I don’t discriminate against anyone. I have chosen to delete them as they do not represent the message of harmony that I stand for,” she said in a statement.

A L’Oreal spokesperson told the Jerusalem Post that the company agreed with Khan’s decision to step down.

Khan’s tweets from 2014 lamented the killing of Palestinians and the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, and praised some world leaders who had spoken out against Israel as it waged a brutal war.

‘Criticising countries is racist now?’

Critics were disappointed in how L’Oreal and Khan handled the backlash following the anti-Israel tweets.

British journalist Sunny Hundal tweeted: “A British Muslim woman has been hounded out from an ad campaign for being critical of Israel. So criticising countries is racist now?

“Where are those defenders of free speech now?”

Journalist Yasmina, who tweets from @animsche, said she was disappointed Khan regretted her messages.

The British online magazine, Media Diversified, tweeted: “Amena has stepped down from the L’Oreal campaign after her old tweets criticizing Israel were unearthed.

“Another situation where women of colour are good enough to front a campaign…until they have an opinion.

“Then all hell breaks loose.”

Journalist Areeb Ullah noted a “double standard”, saying Israeli actress Gal Gadot was not forced to apologise after supporting Israel’s war in Gaza.

Gareth Icke, a musician, wrote: “AmenaKhan loses her L’Oreal gig because in 2014 she called Israel ‘child killers’. Here are the Baker boys. 4 children murdered by Israel while playing football on the beach…in 2014. It seems telling the truth doesn’t sit well with @Loreal ethics.”

In 2014, the four Palestinian Baker cousins, aged between nine and 11 years old, were playing on a beach in Gaza when an Israeli missile attack killed them.

Source: Al Jazeera