A poster for the latest Borat film on Paris buses has caused anger among some French Muslims for featuring a nearly-naked Sacha Baron Cohen wearing a ring bearing the word ‘Allah’ in Arabic script.
Incensed locals have taken to social media, accusing the city’s authorities of insulting Islam.
The poster, which can be seen on the side of many Parisian buses, features English actor Baron Cohen wearing a gold ring with the word ‘Allah’ written on it in Arabic and wearing only a face mask to cover his genitals in tribute to the ‘mankini’ his Borat character wore in the first film.
The upset over the image comes at a time of sky-high tensions in France between the state, which argues that mocking religion is part of freedom of speech, and Muslims in France and beyond who feel especially targeted and disrespected by France’s stance.
A poster promoting the new Borat film on Paris’ buses has angered some Muslims in the city as actor Sacha Baron Cohen is pictured wearing a ring bearing the word ‘Allah’…and not much else
Mass protests have taken place in Muslim-majority countries around the world over comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron in defence of controversial depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.
France and other European countries have raised their terror level alerts in response to three recent attacks.
Bus Drivers in Paris, many of whom are Muslim, have appealed to the city’s transport authority to remove the poster.
One driver, named as Django M, reportedly threatened to ‘scratch over’ the poster, saying it was ‘incredible’ that the image had been allowed to adorn Paris’ buses.
RATP refused to remove them, saying it would ‘under no circumstances’ take this campaign off our network, according to French daily Le Parisien.
However, the advert has been removed from TICE network buses which cover Evry, a southern suburb with a large Muslim population, The Times reported.
RATP denied it had removed the posters out of concern for Muslim sensibilities, saying the decision was made because ‘their offbeat humour was judged by the TICE management to be inappropriate.’
It also rubbished reports that had emerged on social media claiming people had thrown stones at the buses over the weekend in areas of the city with large immigrant populations, saying such attacks were common during Halloween.
English actor Sacha Baron Cohen (above, as Borat) has garnered plaudits and criticism for his portrayal of Borat Sagdiyev, a fictional Kazakh television presenter
No stranger to controversy, Borat star Baron Cohen has angered many in Muslim-majority Kazakhstan where his character comes from.
In both films, the Jewish actor portrays Borat Sagdiyev, a clueless Kazakh television presenter and shows the country as a backwards and poverty-ridden Soviet timecapsule.
The Kazakh American Association has accused the Borat films of promoting ‘racism, cultural appropriation and xenophobia’, while more than 100,000 people in Kazakhstan have signed a #cancelborat petition, demanding that the film be banned.
At the same time, the state tourism agency has sought to capitalise on the rare attention directed at Kazakhstan, borrowing Borat’s catchphrase ‘very nice!’ for one of it’s own campaigns.
The upset over the film posters in Paris comes as France has provoked fury in much of the Muslim world over French President Emmanuel Macron’s defence of a controversial cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Visual representations of Mohammed can cause serious offence to Muslims as Islam prohibits depictions of the Prophet or Allah.
Macron’s stance is reflective of fiercely-secular France where the issue is particularly sensitive because of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s decision to continue to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed after an attack on its headquarters.
Palestinians in the West Bank stage a protest against French President Emmanuel Macron over his comments in defence of depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. The men are seen stamping on pictures of Macron’s face and burning a French flat on October 30
An Indonesian protester kicks a picture of Macron during a rally outside the French embassy in Jakarta on Monday
In 2015, 12 people were killed by terrorists at the magazine’s offices following the publication of caricatures of Mohammed.
Macron initially made his comments in defence of depictions of the Prophet Mohammed after high school teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in a street in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a Paris suburb, on October 16.
Paty was killed by an 18-year-old Russian-born man whose family were from the Muslim-majority Chechnya region. He had lived in France for 12 years prior to the attack.
A poster of slain high school teacher Samuel Paty is displayed in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, the Parisian suburb where he was killed on October 16
Paty’s killing and Macron’s response drew furore from Muslim-majority countries around the world with mass protests taking place from Jakarta to Jerusalem, some involving burning effigies of Macron.
The bloodied attacker is treated by paramedics at the church in Nice where he was shot by police after killing three people. He is currently in hospital in France
Several countries have also called for a boycott of French goods over the president’s comments.
On October 29, France was hit by another terrorist attack, when a 21-year-old Tunisian man killed three people in a knife attack at a Catholic church in the Southern city of Nice.
The man had arrived in France just days before carrying out the attack at Notre-Dame Basilica.
At least four people have died following a stabbing and shooting attack in the Austrian capital, Vienna, on Monday, which injured 22 others.
The gunman was a 20-year-old man of North Macedonian descent who was shot dead by police.
He was convicted last year of being a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and the terror group have subsequently claimed responsibility for the attack.
The UK terror threat level was upgraded to severe on Tuesday in response to the recent spate of attacks in Europe.
Austrian President Alexander Van de Bellen (left) and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (right) lay wreaths in Vienna’s city centre on November 3 following a terrorist attack the day before which has killed at least four people and wounded 22