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Whose freedom? Israeli niqab ad for clothing brand sparks controversy

Social media users say campaign, featuring Israeli supermodel throwing off a niqab and hijab and then dancing, is Islamophobic
'Is Iran Here?' asks a new advertisement from Hoodies (screengrab)

A model wearing a face veil pulls it off in an advertisement for Israeli clothing brand Hoodies, under the tagline "Freedom is Basic". But the ad for Hoodies has sparked controversy since it was released on Sunday, with some social media users accusing it of Islamophobia.

The campaign features prominent Israeli supermodel Bar Rafaeli - who is also reportedly a part-owner of the company - wearing the niqab (face veil) and hijab (head covering).

The advertisement starts with the question “Iran is here?” appearing on screen in Hebrew, before Rafaeli removes the niqab and hijab to reveal her outfit underneath.

She then shakes her hair and dances to a song with the lyrics: "It's all about freedom, finally breaking the chains, costing my freedom."

According to a write up in the Jerusalem Post, the campaign is "purportedly designed to call out racism and bigotry and support freedom".

Iran has seen a renewed protest campaign this year with women filming themselves removing their headscarves in public, with some being arrested and jailed by authorities. 

Future commercials will reportedly feature transgender actress Stav Strashko and Ethiopian-Israeli model Tahounia Rubel.

However social media users took to Twitter to share their dismay over the advert's insinuation that the niqab and hijab are restrictive and oppressive.

Another version of the advert has been published featuring a different model wearing a jumper with the line “I look forward to never seeing you again”.

Hoodies have not responded to a request for comment on the criticism.

A political game?

The campaign comes as billboards depicting anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments have sprung up across Israel in the run-up to Israel's municipal elections to be held on Tuesday.

The racist advertisements have been used in an attempt to drive voters to support right-wing Israeli parties.

Below, a campaign poster from the Likud party in Tel Aviv says: "It's us or them. A Hebrew city or the Islamic movement in Jaffa."

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

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