Controversial Israeli advert featuring Bar Refaeli removing niqab sparks controversy

Bar Refaeli has come under fire for an advert in which she removes a niqab before a voiceover says: “Freedom is basic”.

The Israeli supermodel posted a clip of the ad, which was for a fashion brand called Hoodies, on Instagram, where she has 2.7 million followers, but soon removed it after critics labelled it “ignorant” and “racist”.

In the video, which opens with the caption “Is Iran here?” in Hebrew, the 33-year-old is one of four female models wearing the headscarf; after taking it off to reveal casual clothing, she proceeds to dance and jump around.

Many people expressed their shock at the advert on social media, arguing that true freedom is being able to wear whatever you like.

“This is very weird… #BarRefaeli wearing a burka and claiming her freedom taking it off… Isn’t freedom wearing what you want?” wrote one person on Twitter.

“This campaign is supposedly designed to call out racism and bigotry + support freedom… FUNNY because this is the exact opposite of supporting freedom,” added another.

Some people argued that the ad promoted Islamophobia.

“The is disgusting,” tweeted activist Marwa Balkar, who described the ad as “blatantly Islamophobic” in an interview with Mic.

“It’s disrespectful to Iranians,” she added, “Bar is endorsing this message, what year is it? This isn’t really happening in 2018 right?”.

One person accused the video of endorsing the view that Muslim women – for whom the niqab is a traditional garment – are oppressed: “Fire your creative directors and pull this embarrassment,” they wrote on Twitter.

The controversial advert was apparently removed by Refaeli from her Instagram account in light of the comments, but remains live on her Facebook page and on the brand’s YouTube channel.

Refaeli has fronted a number of high-profile modelling campaigns for the likes of Victoria’s Secret, Ralph Lauren, Chanel and True Religion.

In 2013, she hosted the inaugural season of The X Factor Israel.

The Independent has contacted Hoodies for comment.

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