Gal Gadot’s rendition of DC superhero Wonder Woman has earned her many fans. But her politically loaded statements are known to get her into trouble. Originally from Israel where she participated in mandatory military service, a 2014 post she shared in support of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has led to widespread criticism.
Now, the actor has angered fans in India by sharing a series of pictures on Instagram listing her “personal Wonder Women”. The post featured women from all walks of life, including her family, friends, and women she has “loved discovering”.
82-year-old activist Bilkis Bano, known as the face of the months-long protest in the Shaheen Bagh area of New Delhi against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), also found a mention among the women that inspire Gadot. She also shared an image of Bano on her Instagram Story but wrongly captioned it as, “The 82-year-old activist fighting for women’s equality in India showed me it's never too late to fight for what you believe in.” While she later deleted the Story, the octogenarian activist, popularly known as the Shaheen Bagh Daadi, is still on Gadot’s Instagram page.
In response to being featured by the actor, Bano thanked her and said she would love to host her when she comes to India.
But the post coupled with the faux pas by the actor has caused outrage in India, where protests against the citizenship law have divided people along political lines since they first started in December 2019. While pro-CAA supporters trolled Gadot for exalting Bano, others pulled her up for the apparent lack of research and incorrect crediting. Some believed it to be just a ruse to promote her latest movie.
The fact is that Bano wasn’t fighting for women’s equality, but against the Indian citizenship law that could block Muslims from being recognised as Indian citizens, as noted by TIME magazine, which honoured her as one of the top 100 most influential people in 2020. The praise that Bano has received internationally hasn’t gone down well with many supporters of the Indian government, who describe the anti-CAA protests as misled and uninformed.
Only a month ago, Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut had received a legal notice for allegedly misidentifying an old woman at the ongoing farmers’ protests in India as Bano. Ranaut, who’s very vocal about her support for the ruling party and the CAA, had said in a now deleted tweet, “Ha ha ha she is the same dadi who featured in Time magazine for being the most powerful Indian.... And she is available in 100 rupees. Pakistani jurno's have hijacked international PR for India in an embarrassing way. We need our own people to speak for us internationally.”
It’s not clear if Gadot was aware of this context before she lauded Bano’s activism publicly, considering that her anti-Palestine stance and comments describing Hamas as “cowards” have rightfully angered Muslims and found no favours with the larger Arab world, where her films have been boycotted in the past.
Some other well-known names who made it to the list include Gadot’s “Wonder Woman 1984” director Patty Jenkins, US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, and Kathrin Jansen, head of vaccine research at Pfizer. With this Instagram post, Gadot meant to bid farewell to 2020, but the year-end eventually became as controversial for the actor as the beginning of 2020. In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gadot rounded up celebrities like Will Ferrell and Natalie Portman to create a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” that was heavily criticised for how unhelpful it was, compared to the money or resources they could have contributed in its stead.
Follow Snigdha on Twitter.