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Boeing, Bell apologize for mosque attack ad

September 30, 2005

By Bill Rigby

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Boeing Co. apologized on Friday for a
mistakenly published advertisement for its V-22 Osprey aircraft
showing troops dropping onto the roof of a mosque in what
appears to be a simulated battle scene.

The ad, coming amid rising concern among Muslims over U.S.
military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, prompted immediate
complaints from the Council on American-Islamic Relations
(CAIR), which demanded the withdrawal of the campaign.

But Boeing, which created the ad with partner Bell
Helicopter, said publication was a “clerical error” by the
National Journal, which ran the ad on September 24.

“We consider the ad offensive, regret its publication and
apologize to those who like us are dismayed with its contents,”
said Mary Foerster, vice president at Boeing’s defense unit, in
a statement.

The ad “did not proceed through normal channels,” Boeing
said, and despite asking for it to be withdrawn and destroyed,
was published in error.

The National Journal, a Washington government and policy
magazine, admitted it made a clerical error and said it
accepted full responsibility in a statement issued on Friday.

The furor comes only two days after the Pentagon finally
approved full-rate production of the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft —
which takes off and lands like a helicopter but can fly like a
plane — after years of checkered development.

The ad shows troops rappelling down from an Osprey craft to
the domed roof of a building labeled “Muhammad Mosque” in
Arabic as smoke billows from a burned-out car nearby.

“It descends from the heavens. Ironically it unleashes
hell,” says the ad, published by Boeing and Bell Helicopter, a
unit of Textron Inc., which jointly developed the Osprey.

The aircraft “delivers Special Forces to insertion points
never thought possible,” says the text of the ad.

A spokesman for CAIR said on Friday the group welcomed the
companies’ swift response, but would press the issue of how
such an ad came to be created.

The group had earlier called on Boeing and Bell chiefs to
withdraw the ad.

The ad “clearly portrays special forces assaulting a
mosque, a structure dedicated to civilian worship purposes,”
said CAIR executive director Nihad Awad, in a letter to the two
companies. “This gives the impression that ‘the insertion
points never thought possible’ are Islamic places of worship.”

Bell said it regretted any concern provoked by the ad, and
it was looking into its “creative processes” to prevent a
repeat.

“At the very first indication that this ad caused
discomfort nearly a month ago, we immediately pulled the
creative and replaced it with an alternative ad,” said Bell
vice president Michael Cox, in a statement. “Despite our
directive to the National Journal to replace the ad, it was not
replaced as requested, which resulted in its publication this
week.”




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