Bella Hadid Apologizes After Being Accused of Racism and Offending Fans from the Middle East

Supermodel Bella Hadid is apologizing to fans who were offended by a recent post on her Instagram Story.

The controversy started after Hadid, 22, posted a photo on her Instagram Story featuring her shoe up against an airport window. In the background are airplanes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Critics accused Hadid of disrespecting those countries with the photo as her foot was positioned so that it appeared she was kicking their flags, spurring the hashtag #BellaHadidIsRacist. Several on Twitter also called for brands that work with Hadid, like Dior and Calvin Klein, to stop using her in their ad campaigns.

A representative for Hadid did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Hadid apologized in both English and Arabic on her Twitter and Instagram Story, saying that photo had “nothing to do with politics,” and in a separate tweet on Monday added that “this was an honest mistake on an early morning.”

“I am posting this to clear up a few things that have been weighing on my heart,” Hadid wrote on her Instagram Stories Monday. “To begin, I would never want my posts or platform to be used for hate against anyone, especially those of my own beautiful & powerful heritage. I love and care so much about the Muslim and Arab side of my family, as well as my brothers and sisters throughout the world.”

“Not only do I have so much respect from the bottom of my heart, I have always tried to stand up for what I feel is right, especially regarding the great Middle East.”

The model continued to express her respect for the Middle East, saying “I have never and will never be the one to talk down on these countries… Only to spread love, and the true beauty of them, as the way I was taught by my Teta and my father. To feel as if I have disappointed you is what hurts me the most.”

“The photo of my shoe on my Story yesterday had NOTHING to do with politics. I promise,” Hadid said. “I never noticed the planes in the background and that is the truth. I would never mean to disrespect these airlines, let alone these amazing countries. I absolutely love these airlines, with the best planes and people.”

She concluded by sending “a sincere apology to those who ever thought I would put blame on them, especially to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

“This was never the case, and I hope you can understand the misunderstanding,” she told her fans. “I will be more responsible when bringing awareness to all causes, including my beloved Middle Eastern community. Thank you for taking the time. I love every single one of you.”

Not everyone was very accepting of her apology, however.

“I never liked you and now I have a reason not to,” one Twitter user said.

“The right way to defend our country is to stop purchasing cloths [sic] from brands like Dior, Bulgari, Burberry etc..” tweeted another.

“We know that she deliberately did it, and apologized because she feared for her work and not for our respect #BellaHadidIsRacist” said another on Twitter. 

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