Lily Cole issues apology for ill-timed Instagram pose in burka amid Afghanistan crisis

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Model, actress and activist Lily Cole has apologised for an “ill-timed” Instagram post today. The supermodel, 33, who has penned a book on climate change, posed for photographs of herself wearing the royal blue burqa in two separate images.

Lily 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.”

The British model has since offered an apology and explained she “hadn’t read the news at the time”.

It comes as she received a wave of criticism and was branded “tone deaf” and “putting Instagram gesturing above human rights”.

Critics also said posing in the garment, worn by some Muslim women, did not help diversity and was untimely given the current unrest in Afghanistan.

Lily has since deleted the original post after she was called “disgusting” for sharing the post.

Taking to her stories, the model shared a lengthy apology, addressing the issue.

Lily began: “This week I posted an old photo of me wearing a burka loaned to me by a friend.

“As she pointed I was undermining its original purpose by wearing it with my face exposed, but I understand why the image has upset people and I want to sincerely apologise for any offence caused.”

She continued: “I hadn’t read the news at the time I posted so it was incredibly ill-timed (thank you for pointing that out to me).

“My heart breaks reading about what is happening in Afghanistan at the moment.


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“I’m looking for organisations helping women on the ground I can support.”

Social media users took issue with Lily’s original post with commentators criticising her actions.

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.

Aisha Ali-Khan, a media commentator and women’s rights campaigner, said Cole was “playing dress-up”.

“The oppression of Afghan girls is to be fought, not cosplayed. This is disgusting,” wrote one horrified Instagram user.

“She obviously didn’t spare a thought for all the Afghani people who are literally living in turmoil now,” someone else suggested.

Her post came just one day before The Taliban took control of Kabul on Sunday.

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