Egypt’s Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) has decided to refer Ahram Beverages Company (ABC) to the general-prosecution over a social media advertisement that was deemed “offensive to one of the state's institutions," the agency's chief Atef Yaacoub said on Saturday.
Birell, a non-alcoholic malt drink sold by the local beer maker acquired by Heineken Group in 2002, published a social media ad earlier in October on its official Facebook and Twitter pages where it portrayed a young man carrying an “exemption certificate” from the army, under a slogan that read “The Dream.”
The ad sparked a debate especially after it was published only few days after an attack that killed 12 soldiers at a checkpoint in Egypt’s governorate of North Sinai.
Shortly after, some social media users called on the boycotting of the beverages company, followed by a statement from the company apologising for the post.
“The company's act is considered as a crime that violates the consumer protection law," even after their official apology,” Yaacoub said, adding that the agency ordered the company to “immediately suspend the advertisement,” a step that ABC undertook.
“Birell asserts its profound apology for the published post. The company’s administration stresses that the ad was published without following relevant administrative measures and no approval from the high board, especially that it contradicts completely with the company’s policies that do not mix between its media campaigns and any state institutions,” read the statement by ABC, which was known in the 1980s as the Crown Brewery Company.
He added that the agency would look into the company's request for "reconciliation if they presented one. For now, it's referred to the prosecution," Yaacoub added.
According to a statement released by CPA on Saturday, Birell’s ad was considered as “one that was clearly offensive to one of the state’s institutions and a violation to national values due to its inappropriate portrayal of youth through dreaming to repudiate from serving the country and escaping from protecting the country.”
According to article 86 of Egypt’s 2014 constitution, "preservation of national security is a duty, and the commitment of all to uphold such is a national responsibility ensured by law."
"Defense of the nation and protecting its land is an honour and sacred duty. Military service is mandatory according to the law," the article stipulates.