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MasterCard Pulls TV Ad After Muslim Complaints

October 15, 1996 GMT

MONTREAL (AP) _ MasterCard pulled a television commercial off Quebec’s French TV after complaints that the spot mocked Muslims.

The one-minute ad that started appearing last week shows Julie Snyder, a Quebec comic, searching for her lost credit card in a set made to look like Morocco.

Some Muslims said they were offended by scenes near the end, where the minaret of a mosque is shown and the words ``Allah, Allah,″ are heard.

Snyder says in French: ``Elle l’a? Elle l’a? Elle ne l’a pas. Elle l’a perdue.″ (She has it? She has it? She doesn’t have it. She lost it.)

The ad plays on the similarity between the word Allah, Arabic for God, and ``Elle l’a.″

The Toronto and Region Islamic Congregation pressured MasterCard to pull the ad soon after it aired. The Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations followed suit.

``This commercial mocks Islamic prayer in a way that can only serve to reinforce existing stereotypes of Muslims,″ Nihad Awad, executive director of the Washington council, said Monday.

``Many people in Quebec were hurt by the defamation.″

MasterCard apologized.

``In developing this advertisement, MasterCard took steps to ensure cultural sensitivity and in no way did the association intend to treat any ethnic or religious group in a disparaging manner,″ it said in a news release.

Awad accepted the apology and said he hoped other companies would learn from the incident.

``Perhaps this unfortunate incident will help sensitize other companies to Muslim concerns and may even prevent a similar occurrence in the future.″