How photoshop ‘undressed’ a woman wearing the hijab

A Facebook post showing the above image of a woman included the caption, "THE HEADSCARF IS IMPORTANT !!!"
A Facebook post showing the above image of a woman included the caption, "THE HEADSCARF IS IMPORTANT !!!"

An image of a woman wearing a hijab and short white dress has been circulating for years on social media in France and Turkey, sparking ridicule from users online. But the original, undoctored photo, shows that the image was photoshopped to “undress” the woman.

The photo recently resurfaced on social media in France.

Social media users ridiculed the woman for the apparent contradictions in her “modest” clothing choices, made derogatory comments about Islam and the headscarf, and shamed her for the way she practises Islam.

The same image of that woman has been circulating on social media since 2013 with similar captions.

The Tweet above translates to: “When you wear the veil because of modesty [...] We must not have the same definition of the word”

The Tweet above translates to: “When you have a micro skirt split up to your butt, it is essential to wear the veil. #ReligionofNutJobs”


A reverse image search (click here for a how-to guide) reveals the photo was originally taken for the global news organisation Reuters. The photo is accompanied by the caption, “Attendees sit as they wait for the 2008 spring and summer creation to be presented by the Islamic style fashion house of Tekbir during a fashion show in Istanbul.” In the photo, the woman in question is wearing jeans.

The original image, published by Reuters, shows the woman wearing trousers at a fashion show in Istanbul in 2008. Image credit: Reuters

“Digitalisation brought such bad manners”

Another reverse image search reveals the photoshopped image began to be widely posted on mostly Turkish-speaking local media outlets and forums in early 2012.

When contacted by the FRANCE 24 Observers, the photographer, Fatih Saribas, was surprised to see the manipulated image of the woman without trousers, despite it having been widely shared online over the past several years. 

“There’s not much I can do except express my feelings and thoughts against such a manipulative usage of the image to humiliate the people in the photo,” said Saribas, who is based in Turkey. “Unfortunately digitalisation brought such bad manners, and it’s embarrassing that it's being shared in France as well as all around the world.” 

'Undressing' or 'covering up' women

This is not the first time a photo of a hijab-wearing woman has been altered and shared online. The Tweet below includes another dubious image:  

Algerian-French journalist Mohamed Sifaoui, who has almost 40,000 followers and whose Twitter bio says he fights “against Islamism,” shared the photoshopped image.

A reverse image search reveals that the picture seems to have first appeared on popular image-sharing website Imgur in 2015:

A reverse image search reveals the first time this doctored image appeared on the internet was on Imgur, a popular image-sharing website, in 2015, along with a caption that indicates it is Photoshopped.

Despite the caption indicating that the image is “photoshopped,” it has been reposted on social media multiple times.

UPDATE [11/12/19]: Five graphic designers responded to the France 24 Observers saying they strongly believe this image was photoshopped. They said the woman’s backside looks like it was cut and pasted into the photo, as the quality is noticeably less pixelated than the rest of the image. They also said the line between her skin and her trousers looked too perfect to be real. 


READ ON THE OBSERVERS: Photoshop fail after Tunisian minister shows too much leg

These examples illustrate a wider phenomenon of policing women’s bodies online. For example, in 2016, photos posted on the official Facebook page of the Tunisian Minister of Youth and Sports showed the minister’s dress obviously digitally lengthened to cover her knees.

Article by Ariana Mozafari.