American rapper French Montana has landed in hot water after recently dropping his latest album cover which has sparked controversy across social media. The cover features a queue of niqab clad women sitting with their legs crossed while sporting red latex thigh-high boots. “You don’t have to change who you are, you can bring people into your own world,” the rapper captioned his tweet of the release.
Needless to say, there were divided opinions on Twitter over the photo, especially amongst women. Some Muslim women slammed the musician on the micro-blogging site for trying to “sexualise the hijab and niqab”.
Seen sitting between the veiled women, French Montana – whose real name is Karim Kharbouch – was accused of objectifying Muslim women by diluting the significance of the niqab.
“The women aren’t even portrayed as people. They’re used merely as objects,” one Twitter user wrote. “They have been objectified and instead of being incorporated into the actual video, the women are only adding a sexual, provocative and seductive background for Montana to smoke in front of,” they added.
Another tweet claimed the rapper was not using his Middle Eastern roots for good as an international publication suggested in an article too. “Uhhhh not sure French Montana is honoring his roots so much as he is selling them. Also they’re not his roots—they’re women’s bodies,” the tweet read.
Many others also went on to add how it is not okay for Montana to profit off of his culture. One post read, “No thank you to French Montana’s album cover. Do you have any idea what Muslim women deal with on a daily basis? And here you are oblivious to it all. Profiteering off of Muslim women is not okay.”
Author and professor Khaled Beydoun also took to Instagram to share his displeasure in the rapper’s new cover. The writer of the recently published book, American Islamophobia, Beydoun claimed that French Montana’s portrayal of Muslim women was disturbing.
“I like French Montana. He does great philanthropic work, his music slaps and he seems like an overall good dude. But this image for his upcoming album is Islamophobic. It capitalizes on damaging portrayals of Muslim women as faceless showpieces, ” he shared on the photo-sharing platform.
Beydoun continued, “The women are objectified and serve the function of providing a provocative backdrop instead of being presented as real, autonomous human beings. I get that art should be provocative, but this provokes some of the worst Western stereotypes about Islam and Muslim women. I could go on, but his being Arab or Muslim doesn’t excuse the problematic use of this image to sell records.”
Despite the backlash towards French Montana’s cover, he did find support among a few who didn’t agree with the above narrative. They argued that the niqab isn’t a religious symbol but rather a cultural practice and the American rapper is only celebrating and normalising it with his art.
“Hijab and niqab are part of Arab culture, not Islam. French Montana’s video is based on his culture and not on his religion. Get the facts right before you get triggered,” one user wrote in a now deleted tweet.
Another chimed in, “I don’t know why everyone’s pressed about French Montana’s new album concept like its literal art and I applaud the fact that he is using his platform to represent hijabi’s and niqabi’s in a modern but still in a right way.”
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