Egypt’s Al-Azhar pulls charity ad 'undermining state’ efforts' off air

Ahram Online , Thursday 1 Jun 2017

Dalal and Afaf
A screen capture of the ad showing veteran actress Dalal Abdel Aziz and the poor lady "Afaf" (Photo:Ahram Online)

The sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayyeb, has ordered that a television advert for a charity run by the Sunni institution be pulled from the air as it undermined the state’s efforts to provide for citizens, the High Media Regulation Council announced.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the council said that it had requested El-Tayyeb halt the ad for the charity Beit El-Zakat (House of Alms) which helps the underprivileged in Upper Egypt.

In the 90-second ad, veteran television actress Dalal Abdel-Aziz visits a family who live in a modest structure in a rural part of Upper Egypt, with no access to clean water.

Abdel-Aziz talks to the head of the family, a single mother called Afaf, who says she goes to the nearby Nile river every day to fill buckets with murky water.

At the end of the advert, which is produced and directed by Hisham Gamal, the actress tells viewers that a donation of EGP2,000 will allow Afaf and her household access to clean water, encouraging donations to Beit Al-Zakat.

The ad ran on major television networks in recent days after the fast-breaking evening meal of iftar, when viewership typically reaches a peak.

The month of Ramadan, which began on 27 May, is traditionally a time of increased alms-giving and acts of charity by observant Muslims.

The High Media Regulation Council added in its statement that the message of the advert had undermined the efforts of the state to improve the quality of water that reaches most of the population.

The council also accused the ad of showing Egyptians drinking murky and contaminated water, adding that that the advert could be used as a justification for what it called the Sudanese government’s campaign against Egyptian imports.

The Sudanese government has suspended the import of Egyptian vegetables and fruit since September 2016, alleging that sewage water is used in irrigation, an accusation that Egyptian officials have completely denied.

On Tuesday Sudan suspended all Egyptian imports of agricultural and animal products.

The ad sparked debate on Facebook and Twitter, with some users criticising the government for what they said was its failure to provide clean water for citizens.  

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