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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. nassiratik

    There is something Jewish about this photo. I maybe wrong

    November 16, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • Bob

      You are wrong. But nice try at bigotry.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  2. Saith

    Why does all of this have to be kissing? Why not a hug, or sharing a drink or something chaste? Even I'M a little offended and I try to be nye unoffendable. These photos are ridiculous. Suggest ending hatred with collaboration, peaceful coexisting, and respect not kissing.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      Ridiculous = funny as hell

      November 16, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • MacgyverUsa

      Who would have complaind if it was 2 Nuns? The Devil and the Devil? Two Travel Ocity Gnomes?

      November 16, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      Two HOT nuns

      November 16, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  3. James

    Im beeting off tu that photo ryt now.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Cas

      looool.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  4. nassiratik

    Is there no law against this? Someone should start some legal procedure somewhere. Where is the limit? Who are we not allowed to insult?

    November 16, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      Me. You are not allowed to insult me. But those two fuks? Have at 'em.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • Bob

      You don't have the right to not be offended.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • John Richardson

      No, there is no law. The photo is awful, people have a right to object and indeed are right to object and Benetton was wise to pull them. But there is no law against it not should there be,

      November 16, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive Fan

      Passive, you are now officially my #1 favorite blog replier/responder. Rock on.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      Gratzi PAF. I just like to have a little fun.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  5. Avatar

    Benetton, u are idiots and expect to be sued from some of those leaders sooner or later

    November 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  6. toxictown

    Esp. since Islam is so well known for their easy going nature and love of the lulz.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • nassiratik

      I don't get u, but u sound wrong

      November 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  7. Marina

    The snide remark – 'offended the faithful', is a load of crap. I'm not Catholic, don't pay much if any attention to the Pope – The picture is a lie, therefor you, sir, are a liar – THAT is hateful – THAT what offends me. You knew it would stir up controversy and hate on both sides. Try to paint it any way you want...

    November 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      The picture is hysterical.

      November 16, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  8. marc

    When I see the ad it brings Gay to mind two men kissing on the lips, give me a break they knew just what an image like that would do to people. It's as if they wanted the attention they are getting about it.

    November 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      ya think?

      November 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Vic

      Stuff like that doesn't offend me...What offends me is religion in general, how can people pray to crap they have never seen!

      November 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Sajor

      Yeah, it's not like breathing stuff you have never seen, (unless you live in LA) or cooking in a microwave with other stuff that you never see! Just because you can't see it, and, so far, have no proof of it, It doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  9. Tessa

    This company will do ANYTHING to get attention, be "edgy" or get in the news. I hope they notice that I will NEVER purchase anything from them and hope others will have the sense to do the same (no I am not religious, just find it irresponsible advertising). Shame on CNN for giving them the attention they seek...you played right into their hands.

    November 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Tessa

      PS Didn't even consider the gay or not gay aspect...not important. What is important is the over the top method of seeking attention all for $$$$$. Boycott them.

      November 16, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      What is important is that it is freeking hilarious.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  10. Mark

    I am gay I don't find it offensive I find the Pope and the entire Catholic church offensive Ever hear people in glass houses should not throw stones Well apply it
    BTW I grew up Catholic 8 years of their horrible grade school and nuns

    November 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      That sucks. Are you out? Are you free now?? Good luck to you.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • fred

      Much of the Catholic way was not reflective of Christ. Although you can find God in the church as God is bigger than any of mans denominations you need to read the Bible yourself and find the truth God has for you.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      Fred go read your Bible yourself you dope.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Bob

      Yeah, that truth, which is, as fred has admitted, that his god is an unfair jerk.

      Got that goat sacrifice of the day finished yet, fred? Get on it. Your big mean god will torture you if you don't.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • fred

      Bob
      I commend you on using the little g when refering to _od. You are beginning to sound like the apostle Paul. He too was filled with hate and killing Christians when there was a sudden blinding light. Keep your songlasses handy.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      I always keep my song glasses in my pocket.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • fred

      Passive
      If you would like to borrow my rose colored glassed I could have you singing a new Hymn

      November 16, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • Bob

      Yeah, that truth, which is, as fred has admitted, that his God is an unfair jerk and ass-hole.

      Got that goat sacrifice of the day finished yet, fred? Get on it. Your big mean god will torture you if you don't.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  11. Nino Brown

    Dont know about the pope but im positive the imam isnt gay. He wouldnt have lasted 2 minutes if he were. Wasnt the pope shipping in little boys to his high ranking cardinals with nationalities of their chosing?

    November 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  12. MacgyverUsa

    I defended my Country for Freedom, not religion. I had some close christian friends. One told me recently that until I walk on the path to God as far as he has, then he coudlnt be around me. If people want to be brainwashed then let em. Who am I to bash them. Someone mentioned earlier that one would be shot wearing a shirt with that image on it, and I beleive that. So once again the long line of violence due to religion contiunes in 2011. Let the ad go. If you dont like it, then dont look at it!

    November 16, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      Right on brother.

      November 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • fred

      Not so fast, go read the stats on this page about who is assualting who. The biggest is racial based bashing. The next is religeous people getting attacked in about the same percentage as gays. This is hatefilled people doing hatefull things to another.
      Sorry to hear about your friend. If he is a new christian we get very mixed up at first until we fnd the right church and Gods true perspective. The change should always be for the better if it is Christ at work in ones soul.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      Fred take your mixed up polluted brain somewhere else you creep.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • fred

      Hey, I get it passive agressive. I hope that was the passive side !

      November 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      ha ha fred is so funny

      November 16, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Bob

      fred, after the centuries of horrors that your religion has been responsible for, you can expect to be called out on them. Here and elsewhere.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • fred

      Passive Aggressive
      Looks like you are having a Borne Identi-ty crises

      November 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • fred

      Bob
      It may have been an "ackward situation". However keep in mind it is man that abuses religion for his own purpose. It was man that rejected God. It is man that does hateful things

      November 16, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Mac – At what point do you define where a person goes from turning his or her head to a subject, to the point where you would feel that it is acceptable for someone to vocally voice a opinion?

      There are those who say if someone does not like, say adult content media, that those persons should remian silent and look the other way. The same folks when the adult media is sold close to their homes, such as a gentlemens club, they then feel at THAT time it is ok to voice a challenging opinion.

      The problem that you will run into with these or many types of groups will always be the progression of Nazi Germany prior to WW2. Before you can destroy a people or a group in society is to dehumanize them. This technique does not work as well anymore because folks and groups saw what happens when you go silent and allow the insults and persecution to continue with out a peep. I am not Catholic or Muslim but, I would not dismiss their feelings of not letting this go.

      Try this: It would be like telling many Native Americans to "let go" of their negative views of the Washington Redskins or the mascot of the Clevland Indians.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • MacgyverUsa

      LOL... Good comments.. Thanks!

      November 16, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
    • Bob

      fred, it takes religion to make a good person do evil things.

      (line by S. Weinberg).

      November 16, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  13. Josh

    I dont Believe this picture

    November 16, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      It's right there! How can you not believe it??

      November 16, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  14. gemela

    I AM wandering why most religion are written making women a second class person always double standard for MEN ONLY
    it is very UNFAIR we are all human beings . NOW I HAVE AN ANSWER TO MY QUESTION THAT WHOEVER WROTE THESE RELIGIOUS BOOKS ARE GAYS...
    WHO hates WOMEN .... guess?????? that is why.....

    November 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      Wipe off the drool and put your helmet back on.

      November 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Gays hate women? Setting aside the blanket claim/statement, I take it you never watched Will And Grace.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  15. Descarado

    Who is Benetton trying to kid? Benetton engaged in unadulterated Catholic hate with this doctored photo..

    November 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      Well then I say well done! But I don't think you are correct.

      November 16, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • Mark

      The Catholic Church has done plenty for people to dislike it

      November 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"The Catholic Church has done plenty for people to dislike it"

      Can you name five or ten groups or organizations on this planet that someone could make this same claim. For you its the Catholics, but I am sure you can erase the words Catholic church and scribble in any group.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • James

      The Mickey Mouse club has done plenty for people to dislike it.

      Sorry, Mark, your theory has failed.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"The Mickey Mouse club"

      Which Mickey Mouse Club, the original that promoted that girls should aspire to be good stepford wives to their husbands? Or the Mickey Mouse Club that gave us Brittney Spears? Or the one in the 70s that promoted bellbottom and Afros? 🙂

      Sorry, I said name 5 or 10 but I am almost saying name any group that someone or some group does not have a distrust or dislike for.

      Until then... theory Pass 🙂

      November 16, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  16. Bob

    This is insulting for both Muslim and Christian religions in general. It is disgusting. That what happens when gays get their hands on publications. The company that doctored the photos should be sued.

    November 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      You go sue 'am Bob. You get those big bad gay people. They want to get their gay all over you and don't you let it happen mister.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • Bob

      It appears that there is more than one Bob here. I was the first Bob, and I have nothing against gays.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  17. freewords

    It is disgusting insulting stupid

    November 16, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      and funny and well deserved.

      November 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  18. LibsSuck

    typical liberal add what is so surprising they do hate ads hate speech, hate politics and get a free ride ninety percent of the time.............they also make up most of convicted felons worldwide........nothing notable just more liberal hate speech in this add could have been a dnc add.......

    November 16, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      You are incorrect.

      November 16, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • Tessa

      I would be willing to be you listen to Rush on a daily basis....

      November 16, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • James

      You probably own your own doctored photo – of Rush Limbaugh dressed in a Little Bo Peep costume.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  19. me

    Isn't this insulting to the iman and the pope (if they are not g-s?). I hope the company get sued for everyting they have.

    November 16, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      If I may......FUK THEM BOTH.

      November 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • David L.

      Sued on what grounds? If they were to get sued for this it would represent a whole new low for the italian judicial system.

      November 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  20. me

    Isn't this insulting to the iman and the pope (if they are not gays?). I hope the company get sued for everyting they have.

    November 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      It's worth saying twice. FUK THEM BOTH!

      November 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hmm.... We see P.Agg. is going beyond the kissing phase.

      So, is it the men in robes thing for yah ? 🙂

      November 16, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      Be quiet, I am trying to get to second base with these old fuks.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Tessa

      Get a life Passive A....I think you just like to hear yourself talk.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      Correct Tessa. What would you like to talk about?

      November 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
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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.