South Asian community praises Gap’s response to defaced poster

Published: November 27, 2013
Graffitti

Graffitti on a Gap ad with a turbaned Asian model in New York. Twitter

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

A Gap ad meant to draw from cultural icons and spread love during the holiday season has instead been defaced with racist slurs in a New York City subway station.

Gap Inc.’s latest ‘Make Love’ campaign features a number of multicultural figures dressed in Gap clothing, with one of the posters featuring turbaned Sikh, Waris Ahluwahlia, an American actor and fashion designer next to model and filmmaker Quentin Jones.

Founder of the MuslimGuy.com and senior editor of Islamic Monthly, Arsalan Iftikhar, told Vancouver Desi the defaced ad first caught his eye when a friend posted a picture of it on his Facebook newsfeed. The picture showed the subway station poster with the slogan ‘Make Love’ crossed out to read ‘Make Bombs’ with the words “Please stop driving taxis!” scrawled beneath it.

“As a civil rights lawyer and media commentator, I regularly talk about race, ethnic and identity issues in American politics and media,” Iftikhar said in an email to Vancouver Desi. “This one photograph was a perfect example of how racism is still alive and well in America today.”

Iftikhar posted the photo to his more than 35,000 Twitter followers on Sunday, because “it’s important for average people to know what’s going on in their neighborhoods (and subway stations) and speak out against injustice even when it has nothing to do directly with our own backgrounds,” he said.

Gap

Gap shows solidarity with Muslims and Sikhs by making the ad it’s main image on Twitter after graffitti incident.

Fortunately, The Gap responded to Iftikhar’s tweet the very next day, thanking him for passing on the information and asking for the exact location of the defaced ad.

The Gap further stood by their campaign and changed its Twitter background to the photo of Waris Ahluwahlia, which Iftikhar said was “the perfect response to all the haters out there.”

The clothing line’s ‘Make Love’ campaign has already received an outpouring of support from the Sikh community when it was initially launched last week. A Facebook page titled “GAP,

Thank you for featuring a Sikh model in your “Make Love” campaign,” was also created on Sunday.

A letter posted to its timeline states, “The Sikh community has struggled with making everyone aware about its faith, values and culture. Sadly, very few people recognize that articles of faith such as turbans and unshorn hair, are an integral part of the American way of life for Sikhs that live and work here. Since 9/11, Sikhs have been victims of numerous violent hate crimes.”

“The community has tremendously benefited from the attention it has received through Gap’s marketing campaign,” the letter added. “By placing a Sikh model in prominent locations on billboards, direct mail advertising and digital channels, you have raised the profile of Sikhs in ways the community couldn’t have accomplished with its limited resources.”

lcahute@vancouverdesi.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

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