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Benetton pulls ad featuring doctored photo of pope kissing imam
A Benetton ad in Paris featuring a doctored photo of the pope kissing a prominent imam.
November 16th, 2011
04:27 PM ET

Benetton pulls ad featuring doctored photo of pope kissing imam

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - United Colors of Benetton announced Wednesday it is pulling an ad featuring a doctored picture of the pope kissing a male Muslim cleric on the same day the ad was unveiled in response to criticism.

The ad featured a fake picture of Pope Benedict XVI kissing Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, imam of the Al-Azhar mosque, a prominent Muslim house of worship in Cairo, Egypt.

"We reiterate that the meaning of this campaign is exclusively to combat the culture of hatred in all its forms," Benetton said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We are therefore sorry that the use of the image of the pope and the imam has so offended the sentiments of the faithful,” the statement by the fashion apparel company continued. “In corroboration of our intentions, we have decided, with immediate effect, to withdraw this image from every publication."

The ad was part of a campaign United Colors of Benetton unveiled Wednesday that features doctored photos of world leaders kissing each other and that aims to combat what the Italian-based company called a “culture of hatred.”

The series features fake photos of U.S. President Barack Obama kissing Chinese leader Hu Jintao and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kissing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, among other pairings.

The ads are appearing in print and online media around the world.

“The central theme is the kiss, the most universal symbol of love, between world political and religious leaders,” Benetton said in a Wednesday press release.

“These are symbolic images of reconciliation - with a touch of ironic hope and constructive provocation - to stimulate reflection on how politics, faith and ideas, even when they are divergent and mutually opposed, must still lead to dialogue and mediation.”

Benetton says the ad campaign accompanies the creation of a new organization called the UNHATE foundation.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Islam

soundoff (1,035 Responses)
  1. Will They

    Kissing Cousins? But the question is: Will they kiss and tell??

    November 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  2. ak2k

    Sweet, I'm gonna go get my color block clothes TA-DAY!

    November 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  3. awake

    interesting way to promote a message.
    I"d rather see people kissing than fighting or spewing hate.
    had enough of that.
    Edmund, "wicked" and "evil" are just side names for "lack of awareness."
    I wouldn't read too much in to the bible, but that's me.
    peace

    November 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  4. JC is back

    Santorum must be having a heart attack right now.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  5. nomanches

    i'll never buy anything from benetton again...guacala...

    November 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  6. hany elgamal

    They look like they know what they doing

    November 17, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  7. Freud Dude

    it is completely natural for other men to be attracted to other men. Just as some women are to other women. It is a fact of life.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  8. AS IF...

    Benetton new exactly what he was doing. The sad part is that he didn't have the ballz (SIC obviously) to keep them up for more than a day. Don't put it up, then take them down, and then say "I didn't realize" blah blah blah. Punk.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  9. mlc2005

    These images don't offend me at all, and, frankly I like that they are thought provoking. What DOES offend me is how Benneton is pretending this is some virtuous act designed to "point out hate" in society. Benneton is a clothing corporation; their goal is to market themselves and make money. Clearly, these ads are being noticed, which is exactly what the company wanted. There was nothing noble about the motives.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  10. Love OneAnother

    A kiss is just a kiss yet it is a symbol of Universal LOVE, something these world leaders know little to nothing about. This should not discourage them so as to refrain from loving one another as Jesus has told them they should do!

    November 17, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  11. Edmund Samph

    A basic principle found in the bible that " there is no rest for the wicked" and that" evil and wickedness can not prosper as long as the power of the Holy Spirit is alive in the hearts and minds of men" makes you wonder at how foolish and desperate the struggle is to gain control over our hearts and minds. The important thing is that we still keep questioning and still have a high and holy regard for the truth and justice. The desire and search for truth and freedom will never be quenched by the wicked and even the bible indicates that evil will not be allowed to prosper completely "until the church and Holy Spirit are taken out of the way" by the rapture of the church and all true believers by God. This is the true restraining force that is still here, powerfully at work, and those that promote evil are more that consciously aware that they can do nothing( and have no power over the masses), as long as God's Holy Spirit is still here among us.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  12. Carrie

    badda BING I second that!

    November 17, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  13. J.W

    If they can do this with these two, they could do it with anyone right? Why not do someone like Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps or Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin?

    November 17, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  14. sunpacific

    Good to see Benetton trying to broaden people's minds.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  15. hany elgamal

    i really would of been bad if the pic showing he pope kiss a kid

    November 17, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • hany elgamal

      it would

      November 17, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Nicole

      I would say so!!!

      November 17, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  16. hany

    Thank God they r not showing the pope kissing a kid 🙂 that will be bad

    November 17, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Vince

      what a great idea... omG .. brilliant!

      November 17, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • hany elgamal

      u like that

      November 17, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  17. palintwit

    Let me tell you, it's absolute hell to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and realize you're a Palin.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • badda BING

      even worse when you're waking up on Wall street in a fecal filled tent

      November 17, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • palintwit

      badda BING... you'll have to tell us what that's like sometime. I'm mean the fecal part of it.

      November 17, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Nonimus

      I always thought Michael Palin was funny. What do you have against him?

      November 17, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Tengu

      RUN ITS A TROLL!!!!

      November 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  18. badda BING

    how low can bennetton go? well we just found out...

    November 17, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Vince

      haha. they got free publicity. I LOVE it.

      November 17, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  19. TODAY

    Hey...you never know...LOL...btw...I love Benetton

    November 17, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  20. Kay

    Given the atrocious history of the Catholic church I'm always amused when they cry foul.

    What kind of lax ethics does one have to have to support a system that routinely discrimminates against others, shileds known pedophiles from the courts and the people, and promotes supernaturalism?

    November 17, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • badda BING

      can I just say that you're a doochebag

      November 17, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Toby

      @ Kay- I couldn't have said it better! Unfortunately, more people want to be mental slaves that to actually think for themselves, so it may be a while before this cult of death breathes its last gasps-but let's keep up the pressure. It all starts with telling little kids that they have the right to believe/disbelieve whatever they wish. I let them know that it's OK to question ideas that don't make sense, and to investigate supernatural claims and ideas. Peace.

      November 17, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • ts

      Kay, As Jesus said, He who is without sin cast the first stone.
      I guess you must be perfect.
      Don't get me wrong any person hurting a child should be punished. But insulting an entire group ?

      Or is your only sin being a bigot????

      November 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Kay

      Toby, peace to you as well.

      November 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Kay

      ts, at least I didn't sit there and quote Jesus about casting the first stone and then turn around and call someone a bigot.

      November 17, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Nah

      kay: "Given the atrocious history of the Catholic church I'm always amused when they cry foul."

      Right because 1) the people who committed atrocities in the past have forever condemned all Catholics in the future, and 2) everyone in the Catholic church is culpable for the pedophilia of a few.

      Given your standard for judging people, and given that you are, presumably, human, are you liable for all of human history's atrocities as well?

      November 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Nah

      toby: "Unfortunately, more people want to be mental slaves that to actually think for themselves, so it may be a while before this cult of death breathes its last gasps-but let's keep up the pressure."

      Ah, but of course. And "thinking for yourself" naturally means that people ought to think and believe what *you* believe, right?

      "It all starts with telling little kids that they have the right to believe/disbelieve whatever they wish."

      And what if they choose to be *gasp* religious? You'll criticize them just the same.

      Intelligence, your name is not Toby.

      November 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Kay

      You make the mistake of assuming that I was only talking about ancient or medieval history and not anything that has happended in our lifetimes?

      Heh!

      Where have you been?

      November 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Nah

      kay: "You make the mistake of assuming that I was only talking about ancient or medieval history and not anything that has happended in our lifetimes?"

      Nah.

      First, you said the "atrocious history" of the Catholic church.

      Second, I addressed your concerns about modern pedophilia in the original post. If the pedophilia of a few Catholics makes all Catholics culpable, then you, likewise, are culpable for pedophilia simply by virtue of being a human being.

      See how logic works?

      Try it sometime.

      November 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Nah

      And before you respond dogmatically and without reflection:

      You can't artificially constrain the culpability of persons to just those in the Catholic church. Why? Because the vast majority of Catholics didn't know about the pedophilia and didn't participate in it.

      Much less, if you're going to designate some subset of people as a "group", pick out the bad ones among them and then call the entire group "bad", then all Germans will be Nazis. All Americans are responsible for dropping the atom bomb. All liberals are responsible for Joseph Stacks. All Muslims are responsible for 9/11.

      See how that works?

      November 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • ts

      Kay, Sorry but truth hurts doesn't it.

      Seems you can dish it out but can't take it.

      November 17, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.