Egypt probes Vodafone over claims that advert contains coded 'terror messages'

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SummaryVodafone Egypt says the advert, featuring puppet Abla (Aunt) Fahita, is merely a marketing tool and has no hidden message.

Egyptian prosecutors are probing telecom giant Vodafone over claims that a company advert featuring a popular muppet-like character contains coded messages calling for terrorist attacks, company executives said Thursday.

Vodafone Egypt says the advert, featuring puppet Abla (Aunt) Fahita, is merely a marketing tool and has no hidden message.

The case stems from claims by a political activist who calls himself Ahmed Spider that next week’s Coptic “Christmas day will be a bitter day because of explosions (planned) by anarchists with the help of Morsi’s supporters.”

Copts, who make up the majority of Christians in Egypt, celebrate Christmas on January 7.

In his remarks to private television channel Tahrir, Spider said the four branches of a cactus used as a Christmas tree in the advert symbolise the four-finger Islamist salute used by Morsi’s supporters.

Spider, an avid supporter of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, also said an ornamental ball dangling from the tree represents a bomb, while stuffed turkey breasts spoken of in the commercial symbolise “car bombs”.

The advert is for an offer under which customers can re-activate old SIM cards. A company statement said “any other explanations are pure fiction and personal opinions.”

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