November 17th, 2011
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Pope kissing Imam photo condemned by Vatican

pope-kissing-ImamRome: Italian clothes company Benetton created a new global ad campaign showing the pope kissing a leading imam. Benetton’s poster showed Pope Benedict XVI kissing on the lips Egypt’s Ahmed el Tayyeb, imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo and a leading voice in Sunni Islam.

They were forced to remove the photo montage after the Vatican issued a stern condemnation. The company, which is no stranger to controversy over its advertising campaigns, said it was “sorry that the use of the image had hurt the sensibilities of the faithful”.

“We must express the firmest protest for this absolutely unacceptable use of the image of the Holy Father, manipulated and exploited in a publicity campaign with commercial ends,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

“This shows a grave lack of respect for the pope, an offence to the feelings of believers, a clear demonstration of how publicity can violate the basic rules of respect for people by attracting attention with provocation,” he said. The Vatican was examining what steps to take “to guarantee a fair defence of respect for the image of the Holy Father”, he added.

It launched Wednesday a new global advertising campaign called UNHATE that contained a series of photo montages of political and religious leaders kissing. The company defended the campaign, saying its purpose “was solely to battle the culture of hate in all its forms”. Benetton deputy chief Alessandro Benetton said earlier in a statement that the ads were “constructive provocation” intended “to give widespread visibility to an ideal notion of tolerance”. Benetton “chooses social issues and actively promotes humanitarian causes that could not otherwise have been communicated on a global scale”, he said.

Relations between the pope and the Al-Azhar imam, one of the leading voices in Sunni Islam, have been very tense particularly after Benedict expressed his solidarity with the victims of an attack on a Coptic church in Alexandria.The statement was interpreted by Tayyeb as interference and he did not send a delegation to an inter-religious meeting hosted by Benedict last month.

There were other shock pictures showing US President Barack Obama kissing Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in one picture and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez in another.One picture showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu smooching Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas. In another, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is depicted kissing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A picture of Silvio Berlusconi kissing Merkel was pulled at the last minute after the jovial billionaire submitted his resignation last week.The posters appeared in Benetton clothing stores across the globe as well as in newspapers, magazines and on Internet websites.

 



One Response to “ Pope kissing Imam photo condemned by Vatican ”

  1. Juan

    Maybe Benetton don’t know the real meaning of tolerance. You can have differences and be tolerant.

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