CAIRO, June 9, 2012 (AFP)
CAIRO, June 9, 2012 (AFP)
Egypt’s state television has spiked an ad urging citizens to be wary of foreigners who could be spies in disguise, after critics accused the state broadcaster of stoking “xenophobia,” an official said Saturday.
“The ad was removed on Friday night because we were concerned that it was being misunderstood,” Ali Abderrahman, president of public channels Nile Drama and Nile cinema, told AFP.
The 40-second video shows a young man strolling into a cafe to chat with a group of young Egyptians who quickly open up to him.
As the man sits with the young men and women a voice off-screen is heard to say: “He will infiltrate your heart as if you’ve known him all your life.”One woman in the group says: “In the metro I heard them plotting against the military,” while a young man complains about “rising prices” and a “transport crisis” in Egypt.
The disembodied voice then warns that the stranger is getting “important information free of charge.”
The visitor is seen listening closely to the Egyptians, nodding his head and saying “Really?” in English, before using his mobile to start texting an unknown party.
The ad fades out with a final warning from the unidentified voice: “You don’t know who he is or what he’s hiding. Watch what you say. Every word has a price. One word can save a nation.
The TV spot triggered a torrent of condemnation on social networking sites, with users slamming it as “ridiculous” and an attempt to stoke xenophobia in Egypt which heavily relies on revenues from tourism.
Some critics also charged that the ad was a veiled threat against foreign journalists in Egypt, who are often accused of tarnishing its reputation.
During last year’s revolt that toppled veteran president Hosni Mubarak, several foreign journalists were arrested by the authorities.
Abderrahman admitted that the ad appeared hostile to foreigners in Egypt and said that it will be reworked.
“We are a country that aspires to raise the number of foreign visitors. The ad will be revised so it does not appear as if it is incitement against foreigners,” he said.
“We welcome everyone in Egypt but some people want to harm us” and enter the country under false pretexts, including being in non-government organizations, to “gather information,” he added.
Earlier this year, Egypt triggered international outrage when it brought a case against democracy activists, among them 27 foreigners, accusing them of operating unlicensed NGOs.
Abderrahman insisted that the main purpose of the television ad was to raise awareness in Egypt that no one “should not give information about the country to someone they don’t know.”