CAIRO (AFP) – The Egyptian unit of telecom giant Vodafone has dropped an advertisement depicting an early Muslim scientist, Abbas Ibn Firnas, as a dim man who fell off a cliff when trying to fly with feathered wings.
The Britain-based company made the decision after receiving complaints from viewers, who took to the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to complain about what they said was an insult to the historic Islamic figure.
Vodafone said the advertisement was supposed to be funny but “due to the fact that some of our customers perceived (it) as offensive, we decided to remove this ad from YouTube and from our official Facebook fans page.”
In the statement, posted on its Facebook page, the company added however that due to the Eid al-Adha holidays, the complete removal of the advertisement from all TV channels “will take place gradually over the next few days.”
Ibn Firnas, a Muslim Berber scientist who died in 887, is said to have jumped from a height, wings attached and covered head to toe in feathers, in a failed attempt at flying, although he survived the jump.
The advertisement, for Vodafone’s USB internet service, shows three young men, who starred in an Egyptian time travel comedy, materialising before Firnas with a laptop and a USB stick to try talk him out of the experiment.
He grunts his refusal, even after they show him a Wikipedia entry on the Wright brothers, who pioneered aviation in the 20th century, and hurtles himself down the cliff.
In another advertisement, the trio try to persuade an imperious Richard the Lionheart, the medieval English king and crusader, not to battle the Muslim leader Salahuddin, by offering him a war game on a laptop.