Pop star Selena Gomez is under fire for controversial behavior during her current vacation in Dubai. Two Instagram photos posted by Gomez while she was visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi have provoked accusations of impropriety and a heated religious debate.
The first photo, which has since been deleted from her account, showed Gomez posing barefoot in the mosque and exposing her lower right leg and ankle. The photo was picked up by several outlets before she removed it, and can still be seen here.
The second, which has remained on her Instagram since the incident, depicted her posing and laughing with a group of friends, including Cody Simpson and Kendall Jenner. This picture also shows her exposed foot and ankle, this time flaunting a stiletto heel. Showing a bare ankle within a mosque is considered a sign of disrespect in the Muslim culture. Many have also asserted that laughing and smiling are taboo acts in such a setting.
Gomez has not been present on her social media accounts since the incident, aside from continuing to share playful photos and videos from her trip. The most recent post at the time of writing shows Gomez and her friends splashing in the ocean, set to the mellow song, “Breakdown” by Jack Johnson.
The response across the web has been everything from “let it go” to “cut her foot off.” The main point of contention seems to be whether or not she knew flashing an ankle would be offensive and chose to do it anyway, or had no idea it would be an issue. In the former scenario, she is being criticized for her insolence. In the latter, she is condemned for her lack of knowledge.
One commenter felt that the heat is justified, writing, “A celebrity is not above anyone else. Selena or her “friends”, or the people in charge of them, are not familiar with the culture you traveled into? This backlash is well deserved.”
Another defended her, commenting, “I’m a Muslim and I think some Muslims here should calm down. At least she’s almost full covered shut the hell up. Let them live our religion not hate it she just visited the mosque there’s no freakin rule in Island that says no foreign people should cover all their body when they visits a mosque it’s not like she’s praying or something it’s a freakin photo. Chillllllll people [sic].”