The father of a five-year-old Syrian boy whose image was printed in international media and used in a commercial by Gulf telco Zain Group has spoken out about the picture in an interview on regional television.
The powerful image shows Omran Daqneesh covered in dust and blood after being rescued from an Aleppo air strike in August 2016.
In a TV interview that aired on Monday night on pan-Arab television channel Al Mayadeen TV, Daqneesh’s father claimed the picture has been misused by rebels to attack the Syrian government.
“They wanted to trade in his blood and publish his photos,” he said.
Contrary to contextual information about the image circulating in global media at the time, Daqneesh’s father said the family never fled Aleppo after the attack and instead remained loyal to Syrian president Bassad Al Assad’s regime, according to reports.
There is no suggestion that Zain Group misused the image. The Kuwait-based mobile operator included the boy in a three-minute video advertisement that sought to spread an anti-terror message to viewers.
It depicts a would-be suicide bomber confronted by the faithful with the words: “Worship your God with love, not terror.”
The image of the boy was used to highlight the plight and suffering of all children affected by extremism.
The advert, which went live shortly before Ramadan began, has gone viral on social media and had 5.4 million views at the time of writing.
Since the ad first aired, many have praised its positive message of peace and love, calling it a “beautiful ad”, while others called for the ad to be pulled, saying the terrorism it depicts has been perpetrated by the Syrian government, not fundamentalist suicide bombers.
Zain Group declined to comment.
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