Harvey Nichols in Kuwait
Harvey Nichols Kuwait has taken action with regards to one of its stocked brands following comments made by its founder that were deemed anti-Palestine. Amid escalating violence in the country, Jasmin Larian of Cult Gaia, the Los Angeles-based ready-to-wear brand in question, recently came under fire following her Instagram post which was considered to be against human rights.
Her post read, “I am seeing so much misinformation on social… One-sided and spreading hate. Please educate yourself on the full story before reposting. I’m praying for everyone on both sides who are a victim of this violence.” According to health officials, as of May 15, the Israel-Gaza violence has caused the death of 132 Palestinians, among them women and children. Eight people have died in Israel. As such, given the escalation of violence in the region, Larian’s post was perceived as slanted by those in support of Palestine and heavily criticized by the clients of the department store. It lead to mass outrage on social media calling for Cult Gaia’s boycott by consumers and its stockists around the Gulf.
In response to the backlash, Larian later shared, “I realize I am part of the problem by failing to share both sides.” She added, “I also want to be clear that I am in support of the Palestinian people and their rights but not of the leadership that uses them to incite violence and hatred for Israel and Jews. In a perfect world, Israel should be a place for all people and all religions.” However, a chain reaction of stores actioning the feedback asking for the brand’s removal had already begun.
Today, May 17, Harvey Nichols Kuwait took to Instagram to announce its decision to “remove” Cult Gaia. The statement posted to its Instagram stories read, “Our dear followers, due to the current escalation of events, the decision has been made to remove Cult Gaia from Harvey Nichols.” The same was called for by social media users from the luxury department store’s other Middle Eastern branches. Since then, Harvey Nichols Dubai and Bloomingdales Middle East have stated on their Instagram stories that they have “escalated this matter and will ensure” that it takes “any necessary steps.” While no comment has been made by Harvey Nichols Riyadh, an Instagram direct message from the department store in Doha says that it has “removed the brand from display.” A similar message from Galeries Lafayette in Doha reads that it will be removing the brand from the store.
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Harvey Nichols in Kuwait
“Palestinian Refugees” (study, 1967) Bajeel Art collection. Courtesy Instagram.com/Sultanalqassemi
As violence escalates in Palestine, prominent figures from all over the world shared messages pleading for peace and the respect of human rights. United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres issued a statement via his spokesperson, “He is deeply saddened to learn of increasingly large numbers of casualties, including children, from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and of Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza. The Secretary-General’s thoughts are with the families of the victims.” He called on Israeli security forces to “exercise maximum restraint and calibrate their use of force,” and stated that “indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars towards Israeli population centers is unacceptable.” In the UAE, foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan called for a ceasefire in a statement. “The UAE is alarmed by the escalating spiral of violence in Israel and Palestine. We express our condolences to all victims of the recent fighting, and join others in calling for an immediate cessation of violence and hostilities,” he said. “The UAE calls on all parties to take immediate steps to commit to a ceasefire, initiate a political dialogue, and exercise maximum restraint.”
Having into consideration the complexity of the dispute and the violence of the acts, opinions are polarized. From the Arab world – and Arabs abroad – leading figures in culture and entertainment are using their vast audiences to generate awareness in support of Palestinians, and what they are describing as arbitrary violence. The most powerful messages are in defense of children that have been killed in residential neighborhood attacks, and innocent civilians losing their lives.
Read some of the reactions below.
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