Officials from the telecom company Vodafone are due to appear before State Security Prosecution on Wednesday after a complaint was filed with public prosecution accusing the company of using secret codes in its most recent online commercial that purportedly sends out messages of terrorism on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.
After receiving a complaint from the activist known as Ahmed Spider, the prosecutor general referred the case to the State Security Prosecution to investigate the commercial. In its statement, the prosecutor general said that the commercial used codes and expressions that are unconventional in adverts.
The advert, which was posted on the telecom company’s YouTube channel last Friday, features Abla Fahita and her daughter Karkoura, two dolls introduced to the web in recent years.
Abla Fahita is a widow who, in most of the videos, talks about her late husband and occupies her time by gossiping on the phone with her friends, and discussing recipes and her next visit to the tailor.
Fahita is known for using words that are outdated and sometimes difficult to understand, often talking in circles and making little sense. This arguably made it easy for Spider to read into her lines in the new commercial.
The new advert features Fahita talking on the phone while her daughter Karkoura looks for Fahita’s late husband’s old phone line — the advert publicizes a new offer on old numbers that have not been used for a long period.
Spider became known in 2011 when he started accusing revolutionary activists of belonging to the Masonic movement. He has become famous for making such accusations and filing lawsuits, often based on an interpretation of small signs that he sees in their clothes and speech.
Appearing on a television show on Tahrir channel on Tuesday after the prosecution referred the case for investigation, Spider dissects the ad, deducing terrorist plots in almost every word and shot of the humorous commercial.
First, Spider says that the opening scene, which shows a cactus plant with Christmas decorations, is an implicit threat.
Spider says that using the spiny cactus instead of the Christmas tree is a threat of violence, symbolized by a Christmas ball on the cactus, which he says looks like a bomb. He adds that the fact that the cactus has four branches similar to the four-finger salute taken up by Muslim Brotherhood supporters, means that the Muslim Brotherhood are behind the message.
Spider proceeds to crack the code of the remainder of the conversation, interpreting Christmas turkeys and the search for the old phone line as evidence of terrorist attacks and the work of secret agents and foreign intelligence.
He interprets Abla Fahita’s mention of her friend “Mama Toutou” to be a coded reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. When Fahita retells Mama Toutou’s ordeal of her set of artificial teeth freezing from the cold, he says that this is a reference to the freezing of the Muslim Brotherhood’s assets.
In a phone intervention, head of Vodafone External Relations Khaled Hegazy said that a representative from the company will appear in court on Wednesday. He denied that the advert contained any hidden messages and asserted that it was simply using humor to publicize a new service.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m sad that we have reached this level of thinking and of loading words with meaning far beyond what they are,” he said.
Abla Fahita creators mocked the controversy on the doll’s Twitter account, calling on its fans to start a Free Fahita hashtag. They aid they anticipated the doll’s arrest and pointed to more of its signature expressions with potential hidden messages. In one tweet, the explanation given for the targeting of Fahita with these accusations is that “we pretty widowers are always the victims.”