When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Target audience
Target audience
Jane Gatensby

MONTREAL — The video lasted just seven seconds, but it was enough to unleash a fury of online outrage. "They could have chosen anyone else to make an ad," one Facebook user wrote. "Things start to stink a hell of a lot when governments and big companies push the neighbor's religion on us …"

The source of the fury? An August 9 promotional video from the Canadian branch of retail chain The Home Depot featuring an orange-aproned employee wearing a hijab, ostensibly an example of the promotion of a diverse and well-trained work force. "Our specialized training programs and unlimited opportunities for advancement helped Sehrish go from cashier to talent acquisition specialist," declares the retailer.

In the days that followed, Francophone users of social media took to their keyboards to express their discontent. "Why do they always show someone with a tablecloth on their head?" one woman wrote. "They're expletive hypocrites and slaves, obedient to their masters, to make an ad for Muslims," another raged. Other Facebook users said they would boycott the store.

Twitter

A Canadian journalist denounces the "violent" reactions to Home Depot's video — S​creenshot: Twitter

Speaking to Montreal-based La Pressenews website, Sociology professor Rachad Antonius acknowledged that such reactions are "clearly a racist, Islamophobic reaction," yet cautioned that it was limited to a small but vocal minority, and no public figures were involved. For its part, The Home Depot didn't take the video down, and decided not to comment on the backlash it provoked, releasing the following *statement: "Home Depot is proud of the diversity of its workforce, and the objective of this advertisement is the demonstrate the unlimited possibilities for advancement that the company offers."

Hijabs are banned in public primary and secondary schools in France.

Across the Atlantic, however, a similar uproar extended well beyond social media comment sections. After a Gap clothing store ad in July featured a hijab-wearing schoolgirl, several national politicians in France voiced their anger. Le Figaro reports that Anne-Christine Lang, a member of Parliament from President Emmanuel Macron's La République En Marcheparty, took to Twitter to say: "I will never accept seeing little girls veiled. I'll never shop at Gap again. #BoycottGap." She was joined by center-right party Les Républicainsspokesperson Lydia Guirous, who tweeted: "Gap continues its submission to Islamism with posters of little girls wearing veils. On many occasions, I have denounced the growing occurrence of veils being imposed on little girls, which is a form of abuse and goes against our values of equality, liberty and laïcité (secularism)!"

From the new Gap ad campaign

An online petition for Gap Europe to dissociate itself from the campaign, which features students from a public school in New York, collected 7,500 signatures. Hijabs are banned in public primary and secondary schools in France.

Back in Quebec, where schoolgirls are free to wear headscarves, the issue of Muslim head covering is nonetheless far from apolitical. In October, the province's ruling Liberal party passed a religious neutrality law barring persons wearing a full-face veil from receiving public services, although this provision has since been suspended by the courts. The province's main opposition parties have criticized the law for lacking force and clarity, with the Parti Québecois promising to "go much further" on the issue of laïcité.

*The article has been updated to include the statement released by Home Depot when contacted by La Presse.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Dottoré!

Sowing The Seeds Of Paranoia

"They must be dumping garbage — good, it makes for good fertilizer!"

"Slowly, we were the only ones left"

Mariateresa Fichele

"Dottoré, I know a lot of flags, and let me tell you why. I grew up in the province of Caserta, and — like everybody in those days — my parents owned a piece of land, and they would take me with them to farm it.

I remember there were other kids in the fields around us. But then, slowly, we were the only ones left because everybody was selling the land, making a lot of money off of it too.

Papà wouldn't listen to reason and he kept the land. But in the meantime, instead of farmers, trucks began to arrive. Many many trucks, unloading thousands of barrels and burying them into the ground.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ