Bloomberg News

Egyptian Television Stops Ad Portraying Foreigners as Spies

June 10, 2012

Egypt’s state-run television channels stopped running a widely-criticized advertisement that warned citizens against discussing internal affairs with foreigners, government-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported today.

The 40-second ad, which was also aired on private channels last week under the title “A Word Saves a Nation,” showed a foreigner walking into a cafe and sitting with three Egyptian youths who start discussing local politics. Their English- speaking companion starts typing on his mobile phone to an unknown party as the voices of the three speakers mingle in the background with sinister music.

The ad “disrespects Egyptians’ minds and uses deception to intimidate them with conspiracies,” Ahmed Maher, one of the founders of the April 6 youth movement, said in an e-mailed statement today. “These naive adverts harm the national economy and help hurt tourism,” and could be interpreted as “advice to violently handle foreign tourists,” Maher said. April 6 helped orchestrate last year’s mass protests that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

Maher called for the information minister to be brought before parliament to reveal who was behind the ad, as well as another that warned people against sharing information online.

Mubarak’s regime, in its waning days, used media outlets to accuse unidentified foreign powers of inciting the 18-day protests against him. Anti-foreign sentiments have grown since then in the country where tourism is one of the main sources of revenue.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dahlia Kholaif in Kuwait at dkholaif@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net


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