UK: Guardian sparks row over Dutch fireworks ad

Three weeks ago the Dutch Consumer Safety Institute (CSI) came out with a new campaign for the safe use of fireworks. Fireworks are responsible for many injuries around the holiday period, specifically on the New Year's. In the Netherlands the campaign was a huge success, with more than 750,000 visitors reported to the campaign site in the first two weeks.

I was therefore surprised to see the following Guardian story (see below), claiming the ads sparked controversy. Here's what I found about this supposed controversy:
1. The only one complaining in this article is Saad Saraf, of the British Media Reach Advertising company.
2. In the past three weeks I did not see any controversy around this campaign in Dutch news, and despite serious search attempts, I couldn't find any Muslim or Arab group in the Netherlands who voiced complaints (or anything else) about this campaign.
3. Almost all Muslims commenting on this ad - in forums, news-sites and on youtube - found this extremely funny, and if at all - were proud that it was done in Iraqi Arabic ("the most clear dialect..")

To answer Saad's question: Yes, these adverts are meant for people who are not affected by terrorism, suicide bombings and the invasion of Iraq in some way, though I'm not sure even such people wouldn't find them funny as well.

Apparently, the Guardian is trying to drum up a controversy, but since even the Muslim Council of Britain finds them educational and funny, had to rely on one British-Iraqi advertiser. In other words, the Guardian is doing here exactly what it's supposedly warning against. By reporting a non-story it's "depicting a negative stereotype of the Muslim community", and therefore showing itself to be quite 'Islamophobic' in its own right.

'Terrorist' firework ads spark row


Featuring a group led by an Osama bin Laden lookalike figure at their camp, the viral ads are dubbed into Iraqi-accented Arabic and have versions with subtitles in Dutch and English.

The tone is intended to be humorous, with the terrorist group seen receiving a shipment of fireworks like an arms cache, wearing suicide vests made of firecrackers, and bungling efforts to "demonstrate to you our true power" by blowing themselves up.

However, the light treatment of such a serious issue has angered some industry insiders.

"What is the campaign hoping to achieve by depicting a negative stereotype of the Muslim community in a fireworks advert?" said Saad Saraf, the chief executive of multicultural marketing specialists Media Reach Advertising.

Saraf, an Iraqi, was particularly offended by images in one ad that show one person strap fireworks around him in a style similar to a suicide belt , which later explodes.

"Are the producers aware that the actors in the advert are speaking in an Iraqi accent; with the current state of affairs in Iraq and the loss of lives as a result of suicide bombing, I question, what were the creatives thinking?," said Saraf.

"This is insensitive to society as a whole. Suicide bombings have destroyed many thousands of lives - using them in a humorous way is totally inappropriate. Are these adverts then for people who have not been affected by terrorism, suicide bombings and the invasion of Iraq in some way?"

Saad described the setting of the adverts as an "al-Qaeda-style camp", an image reinforced in one of the ads when the group are seen hiding out in a mountain cave.

However, Inayat Bunglawala, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, did not think the ads were particularly offensive.

"I thought they were very humorous public safety films," he responded by email after being sent several links to the ads.

"Obviously there will always be some who find it to be in bad taste, but I thought it was done light-heartedly and funny and with clear educational value."

The ads were first seeded on YouTube with Dutch subtitles around two weeks ago. Since then, versions of the ads have appeared with English subtitles.


Source: Guardian (English)

See also: Netherlands: Terrorism against fireworks


linn said...

Thanks for this information. One think people always have to remember Islam longs for a true peace and happiness, and together with all human kind.

Anonymous said...

Shut up linn, you idiot.

linn said...

Islam also never teach others to use a bad word to other people like the way you are mr. Anonymous.

Accept the reality Islam longs for for a true peace and happiness.

Anonymous said...

Accept the reality Islam longs for for a true peace and happiness.

Whose peace and happiness are you talking about there, linn? And at whose expense? and at what price? Islam has a very twisted notion of 'peace and happiness'.

No thanks! I'll stick with Western Civilization's definition of those terms.

Anonymous said...

There is no humor in Islam. Ayatollah Khomeini.
There is no humor among liberals. Pat

Anonymous said...

Peace and happiness? The Koran is one of the most hateful books ever written. And written by the most immoral man in history.

linn said...

May ALLAH bless You,

For your information, Quran ultimate guidance to all. It is not a book but it is a miracle if you know how to read and how to understand.

Quran give us principle we can cling to in our rapid changing conditions to reach success and prosperity of body and soul.Quran also gives conviction, so that humans have real self confidence, strong motivation and firm principles.

Anonymous said...

The Quran must be the most boring, repetitive, incoherent ramble ever written. Muslims have to claim it is poetic because they have nothing else to fall back on.
Muhammad came out of a cave and claimed god spoke to him. Did he raise anyone from the dead? No. Did he make the blind see? No. Did he cure leprosy? No. He did not perform one miracle. Why would you believe anyone who claims god spoke to him. Only psychopaths make such claims.
There are many false prophets and Muhammad was another false prophet. Muslims have to make the ridiculous claim that the most boring book ever written is poetic because they have no other proof.
Muhammad was another McGonagall. Only fools and illiterates will deem the Quran anything but the ramblings of a megalomaniac.