(JTA) – The organizer of an Istanbul fashion show that was supposed to feature Israeli top model Bar Refaeli denied reports that she cancelled her participation due to safety concerns. The cancellation of Refaeli’s participation at the Laleli Fashion Shopping Festival, which opened August 24, was attributed to health reasons. But the Israeli news site nrg.co.il, citing acrimonious rhetoric against the invitation, reported that organizers beefed up security amid the controversy over Refaeli’s planned attendance. “There is no safety issue that I know of,” Giyasettin Eyyupko, the president of the organization behind the festival, LASIAD, was quoted as saying.
Conservative media in Turkey, including the Islamist Yeni Akit daily, referred to Refaeli as “the Zionist model” quoting activists who called her invitation a “betrayal.” The paper blurred her picture, which adorned the organizers’ banner for the event. The conservative news site haber10.com reported that the local Istanbul-area municipality of Fatih came under pressure for its sponsorship of the event, and that it responded in a statement stating the organizers have cancelled the model’s attendance. Haber10.com also published an article about Refaeli’s message of support on Facebook for Israeli troops fighting in Gaza last year. The article was titled “the bloodcurdling message of the unscrupulous Israeli model.”