The Egyptian revolution -- brought to you by Vodafone!

Vodafone's new ad claims it inspired the uprising -- even though it is accused of shutting down netw

 

 

Vodafone has sparked fury in Egypt after an advert which suggests that it, and its tagline, helped to inspire the revolution in the country earlier this year.

The commercial starts by showing how Vodafone launched its "power to you" Campaign in Egypt on 1 January 2011, three weeks before the uprising.

It goes on to show images from rallies in Cairo's Tahrir Square, saying: "We didn't send people to the streets, we didn't start the revolution... We only reminded Egyptians how powerful they are".

Perhaps not surprisingly, the film has not had the desired effect. "Never mind the years of activism, the protests, the decades of cumulated grievances, the terrible economic situation, the trampled political freedoms, the police brutality, the torture, etc," said the prominent blogger Mohamed El-Dahshan. "Nah -- we just watched a Vodafone ad, and thought: 'Hey! We're powerful! Let's topple the president!'"

The video is spectacularly misjudged, given that many pro-change activists accuse Vodafone -- and other mobile phone companies -- of following Egyptian government orders to implement a communications blackout at the height of the revolution. Vodafone, one of the two largest mobile phone operators in the country, said at the time that it was not responsible for blocking Twitter. "It's a problem all over Egypt and we are waiting for a solution."

Vodafone have strenuously denied that this film is anything to do with them, claiming that it was made by their ad agency JWT for internal use only (although, seeing as JWT planned to launch it at Cannes next week, this seems dubious).

Attempting to cash in on the cache of the Arab Spring seems to be something of a trend (see my colleague Laurie Penny on Beyonce's latest video). At best, this advert is a cynical attempt to commercialise the revolution -- at worst, it does a serious disservice to all those who lost their lives.

 

 

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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What did Jeremy Corbyn really say about Bin Laden?

He's been critiqued for calling Bin Laden's death a "tragedy". But what did Jeremy Corbyn really say?

Jeremy Corbyn is under fire for describing Bin Laden’s death as a “tragedy” in the Sun, but what did the Labour leadership frontrunner really say?

In remarks made to Press TV, the state-backed Iranian broadcaster, the Islington North MP said:

“This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy. The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died.”

He also added that it was his preference that Osama Bin Laden be put on trial, a view shared by, among other people, Barack Obama and Boris Johnson.

Although Andy Burnham, one of Corbyn’s rivals for the leadership, will later today claim that “there is everything to play for” in the contest, with “tens of thousands still to vote”, the row is unlikely to harm Corbyn’s chances of becoming Labour leader. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.