Nov 172011

Italian clothes company Benetton has pulled a photo montage showing the Pope kissing a leading imam from its new global ad campaign after the Vatican issued a stern condemnation.

"Pope-Imam Kiss Benetton Unhate Campaign"
The statement, issued on Wednesday, came shortly after the Vatican expressed “the firmest protest for this absolutely unacceptable use of the image of the Holy Father”.

Benetton’s poster showed Pope Benedict XVI kissing on the lips Egypt’s Ahmed el Tayyeb, imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo and a leading voice in Sunni Islam.

It launched Wednesday a new global advertising campaign called UNHATE that contained a series of photo montages of political and religious leaders kissing.

The company defended the campaign, saying its purpose “was solely to battle the culture of hate in all its forms”.

There were other shock pictures showing US President Barack Obama kissing Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in one picture and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez in another.

One picture showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu smooching Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas. In another, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is depicted kissing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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