August 9, 2013
by Avi Melamed
Arab media platforms today (August 9 2013) reported about a Volkswagen advertisement. The scene takes place in what seems to be a European urban environment (the car’s steering wheel is located on the right hand side of the car). The ad features a person parking a car that resembles a Polo Volkswagen next to a coffee shop. The person is wearing a keffiyeh – an Arab traditional headdress – around his neck. It turns out the man is a suicide bomber; he detonates himself inside the car, yet the car stays intact. The video concludes with the logo of Volkswagen and the phrase beneath says: “Polo. Small But Tough.” The video sub-title says “German Technology vs. Arab Technology.”
Reports about the video have resulted in an angry reaction among Palestinians. Reportedly, The Palestinian Foreign Minister, Dr. Riyad Al-Maliki, announced that the Palestinian Authority intends to file a law suit against Volkswagen.
I contacted Volkswagen and spoke to an official in the Company’s headquarters in Germany. They said that the company is aware of the video. According the official, the video is a fake and Volkswagen has already announced that it has no connection to the video.
Thus far, aside from the Palestinian Authority, the video has received relatively little reaction in the Arab and Muslim world. This may be attributed to the fact that Muslims are currently celebrating the eid al fitr holiday, a three-day celebration that follows Ramadan. Eid al fitr ends on Saturday’s night.
My assessment: It is my impression the video is indeed a fake. However, the reports in some Arab media do not give any room for Volkswagens’ formal response, thus the reports clearly give the reader the impression that the company is indeed responsible for the advertisement. As a result, and based upon past experience, one should not preclude the possibility that these reports in Arab media might spark an outburst of violent protests and demonstrations in different parts of the Muslim world, including Muslim communities in non-Muslim states. In that context, the scenario of attacks on Volkswagen agencies and property should be also taken seriously.