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Kuwaiti star faces backlash over 'racist' remarks on Filipino workers

Filipino workers returning home from Kuwait fill out forms upon their arrival at Manila International Airport on February 18, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

A Kuwaiti social media celebrity has sparked a backlash for attacking new laws, which give Filipino workers better working conditions, including one day off per week as well as the right to keep their own passports.

Instagram star and makeup artist Sondos Alqattan (seen below), who is followed by over 2.3 million people on social media, uploaded a controversial video on Instagram earlier this month, complaining about the new regulations that favor domestic workers.

“How can you have a servant at home who keeps their own passport with them? What’s worse is they have one day off every week,” she said in a video posted online.

“If they run away and go back to their country, who will refund me? Honestly I disagree with this law. I don’t want a Filipino maid anymore,” she said in the video.

The video has gone viral and prompted several cosmetic brands to end their contracts with her. Social media users have also decried her comments as “racist.”

An advocacy group for overseas Filipino workers, Migrante International, has likened her remarks to those of “a slave owner,” saying Alqattan was clinging “to a backward outlook which literally belongs to the dark ages.”

“We strongly demand that she offer public apology [sic] and express remorse for her disgusting statements," it said in an online statement.

"It would be more valuable if she can visit the Philippines to witness the appalling poverty... and find out what hardships [they] had to go through before they can be deployed abroad,” the group added.

Alqattan, however, defended her remarks in anther video, saying that the outcry she received was "unjustified.”

Filipino workers deported from Kuwait arrive at Manila's airport. (File photo)

"I have not [in] any circumstances in present or past... degraded or in any way mistreated an employee of mine," she said in an Instagram post on Tuesday. "I consider all employees as equal human being [sic]."

Kuwait employs almost 700,000 domestic workers, out of a population of four million, including 250,000 Filipinos.

Kuwait and the Philippines signed an agreement in May on workers' rights in the Persian Gulf State after a dispute between the two over abuse reports, which prompted Manila to temporarily ban its citizens from traveling to Kuwait.

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