Muslims Demand ‘Provocative’ Borat Posters Be Removed from French Buses

A man wearing a protective face mask walks past a shop selling masks as a poster of the film Borat by Sacha Baron Cohen is displayed in Paris,on the fourth day of a lockdown aimed at containing the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), on November 2, 2020. (Photo by …
OEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images

Muslims in France have demanded that posters for Sacha Baron Cohen’s sequel to Borat be removed from buses, claiming that the poster, in which a nearly naked Cohen is seen wearing a ring inscribed with the word ‘Allah’ in Arabic, is a “provocation”.

Buses across Paris have been featuring large posters to promote the Amazon Prime original film, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

The poster campaign for the Cohen flick was denounced by Muslims, who called for a boycott of the movie over the supposed insult to the Islamic deity. Users on social media claimed that the naked Borat holding an ‘Allah’ ring was an “insult” and a “provocation”, arguing that it demonstrated a “lack of respect”, Le Parisien reports.

Over the weekend, a Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) bus featuring the poster in Sartrouville on the outskirts of Paris was the target of an arson attack. It is not known at present if the lewd poster was the motivation for the attack, or if it was a result of Halloween violence in the city.

French tech journalist Nicolas Lellouche quipped that “internet users see this poster as a ‘provocation’ and an ‘insult’ or [shows] a ‘lack of respect’. I hope they never watch the movie.”

According to Le Parisien, a bus driver for RATP threatened to damage the poster and shared misleading information that supposedly instructed other drivers to remove the poster from the state-owned company’s busses.

A spokesman for RATP said, however, that it has instructed employees to “not to remove this campaign from the network under any circumstances”.

Another bus authority, the Transports Intercommunaux Centre Essonne (TICE), did remove the posters for the Borat film in the Parisian suburb of Évry, which is home to a large Muslim population.

TICE claimed that the decision to remove the posters was not in reaction to the backlash from the Muslim community but rather that the “offbeat humour was judged by the TICE management to be inappropriate”, according to The Times.

The dispute comes amidst increasing tensions between France and the Islamic world following the beheading of a French teacher, Samuel Paty, who showed his class caricatures of the Muslim prophet Mohammed from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Following that, three people were stabbed to death in a terrorist attack in a church in Nice. The murders were committed by 21-year-old Tunisian migrant who was identified as Brahim Aouissaoui.

In response to the terror attacks, France’s President Emmanuel Macron vowed to stand up for the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish satirical images of the Islamic prophet, sparking widespread protests.

On Monday, an Islamic State sympathiser opened fire in Vienna, killing two men and two women, as well as injuring another 17 people. The gunman, identified as Kujtim Fejzulai, was revealed to have been a previously convicted terrorist released early from prison on charges of trying to join the terrorist group in Syria.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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