NEW YORK (November 15, 2013)—The Sikh Community is amidst a controversy yet again and this time it has to do with a GAP ad that features Waris Ahluwalia. The ad has provoked members of the community who have found it offensive as a female model is shown touching Waris’ turban in a rather impious way.
In particular, a Sikh from an American background named Gursant Singh has found it particularly “anti-Sikh.” As per a statement shared on Facebook, the California resident has alleged that “Sikhs are being disrespected & insulted in this new Gap ad which depicts a Sikh with a woman’s hand lustfully placed on his turban and chest.” Gursant Singh is set to organize a protest outside a GAP story in Davis, California to ask the store to remove the ad.
Many stand opposed to the protest however. The protest page on Facebook has sparked retaliation from a number of Sikhs against Gursant Singh’s idea. Many have shown mixed reactions about the ad while completely refuting the need to protest.
While Gursant Singh has a point—the turban is sacred to Sikhs and portraying it in a lustful way is not acceptable to general Sikh society.
On the other hand, remove the female model and just imagine the picture of a turbaned and bearded Sikh male adorning the walls of GAP stores Worldwide, including many countries, such as France, where the turban is forbidden.
In addition, Sikhs should consider the fact that GAP is not just looking to gain business from the Sikh and Punjabi community. They have taken a risk by selecting a turbaned and bearded male as their model. Sikhs have long been targets of hatred due to their unique appearance and GAP is helping to alleviate that by showing Sikhs in a positive light.
Tell us what you think about the GAP ad in the comments below. To add a bit of contrast, how would you perceive this ad if it was for a Punjabi brand featuring two Punjabis?