Cairo: A TV advertisement, promoting men’s underwear, has been removed after it triggered accusations of outraging public morality.
Several members of Egyptian parliament called the commercial immoral and pushed for penalising its advertiser.
In response, the advertising company pulled the plug on the advert, saying it respects TV viewers’ wishes.
“As we always take into consideration viewers’ tastes towards the advertising material we present to publicise our products and to stop the controversy and satisfy viewers in Egypt, we have decided to halt the showing of the advert indefinitely on all satellite channels,” Cottonil, a manufacturer of undergarments, said in a statement.
The contested commercial, titled the “Son of Neighbours” stars Jordanian actress and singer Mais Hemdan. It hit the airwaves in the holy month of Ramadan, which marks the TV viewing peak in Egypt.
The advert literally sings the praises of the guy next door for his muscles, manhood, undershirts and boxer shorts, plaudits decried as indecent.
“The content of the advert violates public ethics and is considered an offence outraging morality, which is incriminated by the law,” MP John Talaat said in a statement.
“Why isn’t this ad considered a sort of harassment, sexist and contemptuous of the male community presenting them to society as a piece of flesh?”
“The law has approved a penalty in case of harming morality of a single person. So how is the situation like when an advert is seen by millions around the clock and contains immoral words?” he added.
According to the Egyptian law, immorality offences are punishable by a minimum six months in jail and a maximum fine of 2,000 Egyptian pounds (Dh476).
“The law must be strictly applied to such acts to deter the spread of such rejected adverts,” MP Talaat said.
Mai Mahmoud, another lawmaker, demanded the advert be axed.
“This advertisement should be stopped because it doesn’t suit traditions and morals of the Egyptian people,” she said.
“It provokes citizens’ feelings especially under the current circumstances the country is going through due to the coronavirus. A legal penalty should be applied to the company for outraging the morality of people in homes,” she added.
Egypt has taken a series of measures to curb the spread of the virus including a ban on large outdoor gatherings and a nighttime curfew.
The advert was widely condemned on social media. “Why isn’t this ad considered a sort of harassment, sexist and contemptuous of the male community presenting them to society as a piece of flesh?” said a critic called Mustafa Sa'ad on Twitter. “What type of advertisement is this? Should my daughter talk about the boxers and undershirt of the boy next door?” another said.
The advertising company has replaced the controversial commercial with a mild one that was aired on Egyptian TV channels Sunday night.