An Indonesian skincare brand, Votre Peau, is facing a PR disaster and accusations of blasphemy against Islam after a male employee was photographed wearing the burqa in seemingly mocking fashion during a recent company costume party.
Rizka, a skincare reviewer, was among the first who brought up the matter online on her Twitter account @oenniebeauty. In the tweet below, she wrote that the man who wore the offensive costume was a friend or a colleague of Votre Peau founder, dermatologist Ricky Maharis.
“Regarding the issue of a local [skincare] brand degrading Muslim women, it wasn’t the owner who wore [the costume] but his friend. But [the owner] was the one who uploaded this Instagram Story and the people around them were laughing together,” her tweet reads.
“Please don’t say, ‘you get carried away over trivial matters’ … because this is something that degrades women and religion.”
Btw gaes, masalah brand lokal yang merendahkan wanita muslim, emang bukan si owner yang pake tapi temennya. Tapi dia yang bikin story ini dan sekitarnya ketawa rame2.— Skincare Review Uni Rizka (@oenniebeauty) April 11, 2022
Tolong jgn bilang “gitu doang baper”. Bukan masalah baper yaa, ini jatohnya udah merendahkan wanita dan agama pic.twitter.com/GItIqs5bBJ
Rizka went on to explain that the Instagram Story uploaded by Ricky showed a man, who is reportedly not a Muslim, donning a niqab and a high-slit burqa — which reveals the garter he wore under the garb — saying “syukron” (thank you in Arabic) to the camera and strutting his way down the “runway.” The act, Rizka said, made the crowd, which had Muslim women among them, erupt in laughter.
Rizka’s tweet has amassed over 13 thousand retweets and 41,700 likes at the time of publication, with many netizens in the replies and quote retweets stating that they will never buy any of Votre Peau products, including their popular vitamin C serum.
Votre Peau has published a statement on the matter, in which they apologized for the “unscrupulous act” that caused a “public nuisance” and promised to take this opportunity as a lesson for them to be better.
The skincare brand explained that the act took place at an Iftar get-together (breaking the fast during Ramadan) with their employees and guests on Monday, during which they held a best dressed challenge. They clarified that the man in the offensive garb was actually an employee, who they said participated in the challenge by “behaving inappropriately.”
“Such action was purely a personal initiative of the person concerned and does not have any intention to offend any party. However, we realize that this matter is absolutely unacceptable and should not have been done. We have taken a firm action against the person with a termination as of April 12, 2022,” the statement reads.
Unfortunately, damage has been done, with people review bombing Votre Peau’s listed clinics on Google and leaving comments like “shame on you” and “religion blasphemers.”
It’s not yet known if criminal charges have been filed against Votre Peau or the employee. In Indonesia, blasphemy is a serious crime that is punishable by up to five years in prison.