While a less-than-tasteful poster for the latest Sacha Baron Cohen film might arouse justified disgust in many westerners, among Muslims in France it is creating the kind of stir that could put some distance between Cohen’s head and his body.
The poster on Paris buses, promoting his latest film, shows a nearly naked Cohen wearing a ring bearing the name “Allah” in Arabic script. Incensed local Muslims are accusing the city’s authorities of insulting Islam by allowing it, according to DailyMail.com.
Paris’ main transport network RATP refused to take down the posters, but buses on a line that operates in a largely Muslim area have removed it.
The poster shows Cohen, an English actor, wearing a gold ring bearing the word “Allah” and with only a surgical face mask covering his crotch in tribute to the swimsuit worn by his Borat character in his first film.
Outrage over the image comes amid high tensions in France between freedom of speech and Muslims who feel targeted by the concept that others may express opinions and artistic tastes – sometimes quite ugly – that offend them.
Mass protests have taken place in some Muslim-majority countries over comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron in defense of recent, controversial depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. France and other European countries have raised terror alert levels after three recent, bloody attacks.
Many Muslims drive buses in Paris, and they especially have appealed to the city’s transport authority to remove the posters.