Controversial ads adorn buses across Paris with actor Sacha Baron Cohen wearing little more than a face-mankini mask and a pair of socks. The smiling comedian is seen raising his thumb, and the eagle-eyed Muslims noticed he was wearing a ring with the word “Allah” in Arabic script, international media reported.
While Baron Cohen is Jewish, his character Borat hails from predominantly Muslim Kazakhstan. The advertisements aroused particular anger among Muslim bus drivers. A widely shared video featured an unidentified driver calling the poster “incredible” and offensive, and pledging to remove it.
Reports in the French media have reported a peak in cases of vandalism in buses in the Paris region after the advertisements were put into circulation.
Despite the outcry, the capital’s main transporter, RAPT, refused to remove the posters. However, the TICE network, which serves a region with a large Muslim population, has removed the ads.
The fury comes amid mounting tensions over the French government’s crackdown on radical Islam, as the country is reeling from a wave of jihadist attacks.