DUBAI – An online advertisement depicting people from all walks of life joining forces to dissuade a bomber from carrying out an attack has gone viral on the internet since it was uploaded at the beginning of Ramadan.
The three-minute video by Zain, a commercial mobile operator based in Kuwait, went viral over the weekend with some praising its tagline of “we will counter their attacks of hatred with songs of love, from now until happiness” and other calling for it to be withdrawn, The Guardian reported on Monday, May 29.
The video shows would-be suicide bomber is shown wiring up an explosive vest in a dingy workshop while children study at school, an elderly man plays with his grandchild and a bride and groom prepare for their wedding.
It opens with a voiceover by a child, saying: “I will tell God everything, that you’ve filled the cemeteries with our children and emptied our school desks.”
As the suicide bomber travels to his destination, he is confronted by victims of terrorism, covered in blood and dirt, including a child actor playing the role of Omran Daqneesh, the child from Aleppo whose bloodied image after he survived an airstrike by the Syrian government was seen around the world.
It also features a bride who survived the bombing of a wedding hall in Amman in Jordan, a man who lost his son in a massive car bombing in Baghdad, Iraq, and another who survived a suicide attack on a Shiite mosque in Kuwait.
At various points in the video, victims of terror attempt to reclaim the bomber’s religious invocations – when he declares “there is no god but Allah”, a man carrying a child on a bus retorts: “You who comes in the name of death, he is the creator of life.”
When the bomber says “God is greater”, a schoolteacher responds: “Than those who obey without contemplation.”
”We will encounter their hatred with songs of love,” a message says before the video fades to black, “From now until happiness.”
The ad, which has been viewed more than 2.8 million times till the time of writing, triggered criticism for exploiting the terror victims featured and footage of gruesome recent attacks for commercial purposes.
On social media, many Syrians condemned its use of an actor to play Omran, pointing out that the boy was wounded in an airstrike by the regime of Bashar al-Assad rather than in an attack by extremists.
They argued that the majority of victims of violence in Syria had suffered at the hands of the regime, rather than jihadis.
“The child Omran is a victim of Assad’s barrel bombs and not the terrorism of Daesh,” wrote Kutaiba Yassin, a Syrian writer, using a synonym for Islamic State.
“Part of justice for any victim is to expose his killer. Zain’s ad distorts the truth.”
One of the common critiques of the ad was that extremism is a more complex phenomenon that requires a broader effort by society at large.
“Everyone loves to cry ‘extremism’ and ‘Isis’ and nobody wants to really address the political reasons behind their strength,” said Tamara al-Rifai, a Syrian communications expert.
“What’s the ad saying? We are trying to criminalize these acts of violence as a society, correct? Who are we talking to? The criminals? They will laugh at us.
“Then we are talking to each other, the ones who blame some hazy dark forces for everything without really going to the crux of why they exist to start with,” she added.