UK model, actress and activist, Lily Cole has come under huge criticism after sharing images of herself wearing the traditional Afghani burqa to promote her book.
In the first image she posted on social media, Lily Cole is seen wearing the burqa over her face as she encouraged fans to purchase her brand-new book called ‘Who Care Wins: Reasons For Optimism in Our Changing World.
Cole, 33, posted the pictures as Afghanistan was being taken over by the Taliban, who forced women to wear the burka when they were last in control there in the 1990s.
One photo showed her with a blue burka covering her face and body, and in another the garment was pulled up to reveal her face.
The caption read: “Let’s embrace diversity on every level – biodiversity; cultural diversity; diversity of thinking; diversity of voices; diversity of ideas.”
She used the same post to promote her new book Who Cares Wins, about how to tackle the climate and ecological crisis.
The Times columnist Janice Turner accused Cole of “putting Instagram posturing before universal human rights”.
Anjum Peerbacos, co-founder of the Hijabi Half-Hour podcast, said the pictures were “disrespectful”.
“It’s not a fashion accessory to be able to be deployed as a publicity stunt,” she told BBC News.
“Regardless of how people around the world have chosen to wear that garment, that garment is a respectful religious symbol and is worn and used as such.
“So for her to use it as what can only be described as a publicity stunt, I think is abhorrent and really displays to us her level of ignorance with regards to it.”
Following the huge social media backlash, Cole has now apologized.
Cole said she understood why the image upset people and wanted to “sincerely apologise for any offence caused”.
She agreed it was “ill-timed” and said she “hadn’t read the news at the time”.