You may have noticed a growing chorus of condemnation of Spanish fast fashion giant Zara in recent days. It all began on Instagram, where Vanessa Perilman, the fashion house’s chief designer sent a private message to a model. In the lengthy message, Perilman made inflammatory remarks about Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. The model, Qaher Harhash, then shared the message publicly, leading to a chorus of condemnation.
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Perilman sent messages in response to model Qaher Harhash’s pro-Palestine posts on Instagram, defending Israel’s crimes and attacking Islam and Muslims. One message read, “Maybe if your people were educated then they wouldn’t blow up hospitals and schools that Israel helped to pay for in Gaza.”
In another message she said, “I think it’s funny that you’re a model because in reality, that is against what the Muslim faith believes in and if you were to come out of the closet in any Muslim country, you would be stoned to death,”
Harhash shared the screenshots and social media users responded with calls for a boycott and apologies.
Outrage at Perilman’s comments spread across other social media platforms with trending hashtags like #BoycottZara and #ZaraMustApologise.
Perilman has apologised to Harhash and deleted all of her social media accounts saying she had received death threats.
Twitter user, Nooran broke down the subsequent apologies from Zara and Perilman,as non-responsive and generic.
She also emailed a complaint against Perilman, and stated the response was dismal. Harhash also stated that Zara reached out to him and he referred them to do so via his agency. He did not accept Perilman’s apology.
“There are ten different apologies in the conversation between me and her but I kept having to tell her to try again because her messages would have buts and ifs. In addition to that she wanted me to understand the Israeli perspective which we all know means forced coexistence under the same status quo. For me an apology means to fully acknowledge the pain or suffering you caused someone. She came into my DMs, wrote hateful comments, why should I accept a half-assed apology?” Harhash said on his Instagram stories.
Harash pointed out further in his IG stories that Zara should acknowledge Islamophobia often overlooked by European society despite Muslims making up a significant portion of their customer base. He also pointed out the hypocrisy in fashion houses who fire designers when anti-Semtic things have been said. Zara has said they have opened an internal investigation. They have not made any public statements since interacting with Harash.