A Pizza Hut advertisement mocking the leader of Palestinian hunger-strikers imprisoned by Israel, Marwan Al-Barghouti, has backfired, various news agencies reported on Tuesday. The backlash has pushed the global brand to apologise.
The company's franchisee in Israel posted an ad on Facebook which included an image of a prisoner eating secretly. The image itself was released by Israeli police early this week with the claim that it is Al-Barghouti, in an effort to discredit the hugely-respected Fatah activist. According to AFP, the caption read: "Barghouti, if you are going to break your [hunger] strike, is not pizza the better choice?" A pizza delivery box was Photoshopped onto the original image by the ad agency.
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Al-Barghouti and around 1,600 other Palestinian prisoners have been on hunger strike for 24 days, calling for the Israeli authorities to improve their conditions in detention.
Responding to the ad, Palestinian, Arab and foreign activists launched a campaign on social media calling for a boycott of the company. "Pizza Hut's mockery of the leaders of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike for freedom and dignity simply adds insult to deep injury," said Mahmoud Nawajaa of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. "We support grassroots Palestinian calls for a worldwide boycott of Pizza Hut, especially in the Arab world," he told AFP.
Pizza Hut has removed the advert and apologised to the Palestinians and the hunger-strikers. The contract with the advertising agency in Israel which used the offensive imagery has been terminated, it said.