An American advertisement featuring a Muslim girl in a hijab has prompted an outcry in France. The campaign was shot in New York but published by Gap in French on social media.
On YouTube, the company released a 15-second video that received more than 1 million views. But the ad garnered a mixed response from viewers. Some celebrated the ad. Blair Imani wrote, “Finally. A diverse campaign that doesn’t center whiteness. Alhamdulilah.” Others praised the ad for promoting the “hijabista.”
The ad also received numerous criticisms.
“Dear @Gap @GapKids your attempts at “inclusiveness” by normalizing the “Child Hijab” is disgusting. You’re literally supporting an act of child abuse,” said a post by Hanouf Mohammad on Twitter.
Another Twitter user wrote: “To veil little girls is abuse. And a crime against all women. how far will you go to sell [clothing]?”
“Do you support veiling girls? I’m going to destroy my Gap clothes and never step foot in your stores,” another wrote.
French politicians also weighed in. Paris LRM deputy Anne-Christine Lang tweeted: “I will never accept seeing little girls wearing the hijab. I will never go to Gap ever again. #BoycottGap.”
“Starting the year off right is no longer about going to Gap. Nothing authorizes or justifies the veiling of little girls: where is their freedom? Where is their free will? Where is their choice? Whether or not it’s a business decision, I’m sick of it,” said Parliament member of La Republique en marche (LRM) Aurore Bergé.
Les Républicains spokesperson (LR) spokeswoman Lydia Guirous also spoke out against the campaign, accusing the brand of “submission to Islamism”. “I have denounced several times the veil’s growing power imposed on girls, which is abuse and treads on our values of equality, freedom and secularism!” she wrote on Twitter.
Valérie Boyer, LR deputy of Bouches-du-Rhône, also spoke out against the ad: “Gap shows a little veiled girl. The abuse inflicted on her, the inequality imposed on her (…), the confinement of her kind does not raise any protest. Marketing promotes submission to Islamism.”
A #boycottgap hashtag has been launched on Twitter.
Others pointed to the apparent “contradiction” within the ad. Beyond the “symbol of misogyny, submission, archaism and confinement,” the journalist and writer Mohamed Sifaoui remarks that the girl is wearing clothing in “contradiction.”
“Denim has always symbolized rebellion, the hippie culture and equality between man/woman, which is all that Islamists hate,” he noted.