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Muslim model leaves L'Oreal after 2014 tweets criticising Israel surface

Amena Khan apologises for tweets posted during war on Gaza in 2014 where she called on Britain to stop arming Israel
Khan became L'Oreal's first visibly Muslim model chosen to front a campaign (Screengrab: @amenaofficial)

A Muslim model was forced to step down from a high-profile beauty campaign following an online backlash over a series of pro-Palestine tweets that she wrote more than three years ago. 

Amena Khan, from Leicester, said she "deeply regrets" the comments she made in 2014, and apologised for "upset and hurt that they have caused".

She made the series of tweets criticising Israel during its 2014 assault on Gaza, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead.

Some of her old tweets called on Britain to "#StopArmingIsrael" and accused Israel of "terrorising innocent civilians".

These tweets have since been deleted from Twitter by the model. 

Khan was recently chosen by L'Oreal UK to front the company's new hair product campaign.

She became the beauty company's first visibly Muslim model to wear a hijab and was featured in a campaign aimed at promoting a series of hair products for women from different ethnicities and backgrounds. 

But an 18 January article from far-right website Daily Caller showed a series of old tweets from Khan leading to a flurry of online abuse against her, including Islamophobic slurs and accusations of anti-Semitism.

Some of the accusations levelled against the model include branding Khan's old tweets as "anti-Israel" and questioning whether she was appropriate for a campaign aimed at promoting diversity. 

In her old tweets, Khan wrote that Israel was illegally occupying "Palestinian land" and accused it of "terrorising innocent civilians".

She also thanked Channel 4 News reporter Jon Snow for his reports from Gaza and called on former UK prime minister David Cameron to "#StopArmingIsrael". 

The same year, Human Rights Watch accused Israel of conducting "unlawful attacks that do not target military objectives and may be intended as collective punishment or broadly to destroy civilian property".

In a statement released on her Instagram page, Khan said she stepped down from the L'Oreal campaign "because of the current controversies surrounding it". 

"I have chosen to delete them (tweets) as they do not represent the message of harmony that I stand for; I recently took part in a campaign, which excited me because it celebrated inclusivity," Khan wrote on Instagram. 

"With deep regret, I've decided to step down from this campaign because the current conversations surrounding it detract from the positive and inclusive sentiment that it set out to deliver." 

Khan who describes herself as being a "champion of diversity" wrote on her Instagram feed a week ago that she was "proud" to be included in L'Oreal's latest campaign. 

Her appointment to front the L'Oreal campaign was a source of controversy after the beauty company fired transgender model Munroe Bergdorf in September for her comments on racism. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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