"a religious symbol and not a film set"
A Pakistani model and fashion brand have come under fire after she was pictured posing without a head covering outside a gurdwara.
The model, named Sauleha, was photographed outside the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Kartarpur, Pakistan.
The images had reportedly been taken as part of a social media advertisement for an online, Lahore-based clothing store called Mannat Clothing.
However, the model did not have her head covered which is a requirement for both men and women visiting any Sikh temple.
The Sikh community have criticised the advert for being offensive and said that it hurt religious sentiments.
Manjinder Singh Sirsa, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management committee said:
“Such petty behaviour at Shri Kartarpur Sahib, the religious place of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, is disrespectful.
“Take strict action against those who behave lewdly at religious places of minorities in Pakistan.”
His predecessor, Paramjit Singh Sarna, added:
“Instructions should be placed in Urdu and English for head-covering and about not showing the back to the holy site.”
There are also unconfirmed reports that those responsible for the gurdwara have been charging money for photoshoots there.
Notably, the Project Management Unit (PMU), responsible for the Sikh temple, also charge a Rs. 200 (£0.85) entry fee.
Former general secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Kiranjot Kaur responded to the commercialisation. She said:
“It is wrong and authorities must act on it immediately.”
Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, also tweeted out against the photoshoot.
He wrote that the gurdwara is “a religious symbol and not a film set”.
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) November 29, 2021
Both Mannat Clothing and Sauleha have since made public apologies.
The model shared an Instagram post with a lengthy caption which included:
“I respect the Sikh culture very much and I am sorry to all the Sikh community.”
The fashion brand also shared their apology on Instagram, saying the images came from a third party.
The statement read: “The pictures posted on our accounts are not part of any shoot done by Mannat Clothing.
“These pictures were provided to us by a third-party (blogger) in which they were wearing our dress.”
“Please note that Mannat has absolutely no role in deciding how and where the pictures were taken.
“However, we accept our mistake that we should not have posted this content and we apologise to every single person who was offended by this.
“All the holy places are very sacred to us. The pictures and posts have been removed from all our media channels.
“Again, we apologise wholeheartedly for hurting the public sentiment. Believe us when we say we had no such intention.
Punjab Police are now investigating the incident and said in a statement on Twitter:
“Punjab Police are investigating all aspects related to this incident and strict legal action will be taken against responsible.
“Management of concerned brand and model are being investigated. Worship places of all religions are equally respectable.”
Both the model and brand have now removed the images in question from their social media pages.