Banner meant to promote Egyptian unity is mocked for strange errors

December 17, 2013 6:41 PM

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In an unintentional and deeply ironic symbol of Egypt's troublesome political divides, a banner meant to promote Egyptian unity and cooperation has instead become a subject of wide ridicule.

The banner was hung as part of an Egyptian government effort to promote a January referendum on a new constitution, which leaders hope will be seen as a vote of confidence in the country's current path. Issuing an apology for the strange banner, then, isn't a great start.

The banner, which hung prominently at a weekend news conference on the constitution, included stock photos of Western-looking people that had been previously used in ads in the United States and Ireland. It also misspelled the word "Egyptians" in Arabic, instead using the word for "determined." Bloggers found one of the stock images, of a doctor, on a Web site about getting rid of stretch marks, among others.

"It would have been nice if the ad that was representing Egyptians and targets Egyptians actually had Egyptians in it," Khaled Alish, an anchor at privately owned radio station Mega FM, said Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The government apologized, Reuters said, saying the banner "was delivered hours before the conference began as a donation by a nongovernmental organization promoting the constitutional draft."

Backers of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi oppose the new constitution, as do some supporters of secular, anti-Morsi forces. My colleague Abigail Hauslohner wrote this weekend about the two groups, which are both demonstrating against the government but also clashing with each other.

The government did bring Egyptians together with the banner -- but mostly in derision at the error and odd photo choice.


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