Citroën has been accused of normalizing sexual harassment in an Egyptian video that features the pop star Amr Diab.
In the ad, released on Dec. 3, but in recent days since criticized on social media, shows Diab using a camera on his car to photograph a woman crossing the road, apparently without her consent. They are later seen driving together.
Egyptian-American journalist Reem Abdellatif described it as “creepy”. She wrote on Twitter; “Who thought it would be a good idea to make an ad that enables sexual harassment in a country where 98% of women reported getting harassed at some point in their lives?”
And writer Amal Alharithi tweeted; “What’s painful about Amr Diab’s advert is that the entire crew did not realise the mistake. No-one in the crew objected to taking pictures of girls in the streets without their consent. This is so sad.”
A comment on Citroën Egypt’s Instagram account warned the company that men watching the advert might mistakenly believe taking an unsolicited photo of a woman could lead to a date, when in fact they could face prosecution and imprisonment.
Watch the ad here:
Neither Citroën nor Amr Diab have so far commented on the criticism.
In recent years, dozens of women inspired by the #MeToo movement have spoken out on social media about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault in Egypt.
The country’s parliament approved harsher penalties for sexual harassment in July, amending the penal code to make it a felony and increasing the penalty to a minimum of two years in prison instead of six months, alongside a fine of between $6,370 and $12,740 USD.
However, Egyptian authorities have been accused of frequently failing to investigate and prosecute men accused of sexual harassment or assault against women and girls.
Update — Dec. 30, 2021: Today Citroën said it had removed the ad.
“We have been made aware that a scene… had been perceived as inappropriate”, Citroën wrote in a statement posted on their Instagram account.
“We take the decision to withdraw this version of the commercial…and we present our sincere apologies to all offended communities by this film.”
However the ad is still available to view on YouTube and online, people have kept up criticism of Diab for his part in failing to apologize for the ad..