Kuwaiti telecom company Zain launched an anti-terror ad Saturday to kick off Ramadan, the holiest month in the Muslim calendar.
Ramadan typically garners huge TV audiences as families gather to break their fast and by eating and watching television together. Thus, advertisers spend the largest portion of their budget during Ramadan. Since Saturday, Zain’s three minute music video has been watched roughly 2.4 million times.
Zain, a regional mobile operator with more than 45 million customers, struck a chord with its viewers last year by launching an pro-peace ad that was viewed 13 million times. Shortly after, its holiday ad, which marked the end of Ramadan, received over 24 million views.
This new video has once again grabbed attention by recreating the aftermath of a bus bombing. In the video, the suicide bomber walks through the carnage he created looking at the blood and dirt-covered injured. Among them is a youngster who resembles the Syrian boy, Omran Daqneesh, whose image went viral after he was rescued from Aleppo in 2016.
The ad also features survivors of previous attacks, including a man from the 2015 Kuwait mosque blast and a bride from a 2005 attack on a wedding in Amman, Jordan.
Throughout the video, famous Emirati star Hussain Al Jassmi sings, “Worship your God with love, with love not terror … Be tender in your faith, gentle not harsh. Confront your enemy, with peace not war … Let’s bomb, let’s bomb, let’s bomb violence with mercy … let’s bomb extremism for a better life.”
The video provoked a heated debate in the region. Some praise its attempt to tackle extremism while others criticize it for portraying terrorists too simply and for ‘exploiting’ bomb victims by featuring them in the video. Critics have called for the ad to be withdrawn, but its proponents embrace its tagline of “We will counter their attacks of hatred with songs of love, from now until happiness.”
Syrian writer Kutaiba Yassin said that “Zain’s ad distorts the truth” and fails to address the more complex phenomenon of terrorism that requires broad societal effort to produce change.
In support of the video, prominent Emirati writer Sultan Al Qassemi tweeted, “What a beautiful ad on counter violence & extremism.”
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