Neeti Chakma

Fellow, Dismislab
The video of a woman denied entry at Aarong is from covid times

The video of a woman denied entry at Aarong is from covid times

Neeti Chakma

Fellow, Dismislab

A video circulating on Facebook shows a woman wearing a niqab being denied entry to a showroom. The accompanying caption claims that the woman, dressed in a hijab and niqab, was refused entry by authorities at the Gulshan branch of Aarong. However, upon verification, it was found that the incident took place during the COVID-19 lockdown. Furthermore, authorities clarified that the woman’s entry was not denied because of her niqab, but rather because she did not comply with pandemic-related restrictions.

On March 31st, the video was posted from a Facebook account with the caption, “A woman wearing a burka niqab was not allowed to enter the showroom because she was wearing a hijab at the Aarong Gulshan branch, which has thrived under the support of the LGBTQ+ community. Her husband and child accompanied her. There is no alternative but to expel these scoundrels from the country. (archive video).”

Numerous people have shared the video with the same caption (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).

Another Facebook account added to the caption, stating, “The administration should verify if it is indeed true.” Similarly, a Facebook page captioned the same video as “Anti-Islamic act with female customer.” Additionally, a post from another Facebook account questioned, “If a country with 90% Muslims faces so many issues with Islamic rules and regulations, then it’s time to question whether the percentages are merely census figures or if they truly represent Muslims.” Several other Facebook accounts posted the same video with similar captions.

However, after verification, it was confirmed that the video is at least three and a half years old. During that time, various parts of the country were under full or partial lockdown due to COVID-19, and the government mandated wearing masks when leaving the house. Authorities clarified that the woman was denied entry to the showroom because she did not wear a mask, in compliance with COVID-19 regulations, rather than being refused due to her hijab or niqab.

In the video, a black niqab-clad woman and her infant child, along with the videographer, and a representative of Aarong (whether a salesperson or manager is unclear) are shown. The videographer can be heard questioning the Aarong representative, “I mean, what you’re wearing is a mask. Why not this niqab mask? I want an explanation from you.”

The Aarong representative, while displaying the mask worn by him, questioned, “How come is this called a mask? Do you have any medical appropriation for it or not?” When asked about recording the video, he insisted, “You must allow the video to be done. Because you didn’t let me in even after registration, right?” He further inquired, “Why is the niqab not a mask, and why is yours a mask? Explain this to me, please.”

The videographer stated, “I am now at Gulshan Aarong (the Gulshan branch showroom of lifestyle brand Aarong). I will change one thing here. I did not bring my wife in a mask. The baby has it. Now he doesn’t want to call her niqab a mask. But what they are wearing can be called a mask? I am asking this question to everyone.”

In the video, no statement from the Aarong authorities has been heard.

The oldest post of this video was found in 2020. It was posted on August 7th of that year by a Facebook account named Shabib Tashfi. The caption reads, “Is there no one to stop them? Salesmen are doing hard duty with cloth masks on their faces. However, because of the niqab on the face, women wearing burka are not allowed to enter inside! A few days ago, a brother posted that his wife was not allowed to enter the Aarong. And today this brother’s video came forward. The main objection of the authorities is not wearing masks? Or only niqab and hijab are objectionable?”

The video has been shared almost 1500 times, and 279 comments have been recorded. In the comment section, some users claimed that the niqab is safer than a surgical mask. A Facebook user commented, “Niqabs are safer than surgical masks. Think about it.”

Notably, there has been ongoing controversy surrounding BRAC and its subsidiary Aarong on social media. Recently, Aarong has been accused of promoting homosexuality through punjabi designs. Earlier, university authorities stated in a statement that Asif Mahtab’s part-time job contract would not be renewed due to ‘unacceptable behavior’ in the case of tearing the pages of the textbook. During that time, there was controversy surrounding BRAC for allegedly patronizing transsexuals.