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Shocking PHOTOS of politicians KISSING

Last updated on: November 18, 2011 11:17 IST

Shocking PHOTOS of politicians KISSING

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It was a campaign seeking to contribute to the creation of a new culture of tolerance. But it stirred up a storm.

 

The Unhate campaign -- -- supported by fashion house United Colors of Benetton -- consists of a series of advertisements that includes, among others, images of President Obama kissing Chinese leader Hu Jianto, Obama kissing Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, and Pope Benedict XVI kissing Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb. 

But after a furore, Benetton pulled off the photoshopped ad that showed Pope Benedict XVI kissing a leading Islamic imam

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Image: Benetton ad showing US President Barack Obama kissing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Photographs: Courtesy Benetton
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The Vatican responded with furious protests over the image in the company's Unhate campaign, released Wednesday, which showed the Pope smooching with Egyptian Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayyeb.

 

"This is a grave lack of respect for the Pope," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi fumed.

 

"We cannot but express a resolute protest at the entirely unacceptable use of a manipulated image of the Holy Father, used as part of a publicity campaign which has commercial ends."

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Image: Ad shows US President Barack Obama kissing his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao
Photographs: Courtesy Benetton
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According to the campaign website, "Unhate is a message that invites us to consider that hate and love are not as far away from each other as we think. Actually, the two opposing sentiments are often in a delicate and unstable balance. Our campaign promotes a shift in the balance: don't hate, Unhate."

But the worldwide communication campaign has run into trouble.

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Image: Ad shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel kissing French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Photographs: Courtesy Benetton
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The White House issued a statement condemning Benetton for the campaign.

 

"The White House has a longstanding policy disapproving of the use of the president's name and likeness for commercial purposes," said White House spokesman Eric Schultz on Thursday. Obama was shown kissing his Venezuelan and Chinese counterparts, Hugo Chavez and Hu Jintao.

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Image: Ad shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-il kissing South Korea's Lee Myung-bak
Photographs: Courtesy Benetton
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Defending the Unhate campaign, Alessandro Benetton, executive deputy chairman of Benetton Group, said: "While global love is still a utopia, albeit a worthy one, the invitation 'not to hate', to combat the 'culture of hatred', is an ambitious but realistic objective," explains Alessandro Benetton." 

"At this moment in history, so full of major upheavals and equally large hopes, we have decided, through this campaign, to give widespread visibility to an ideal notion of tolerance and invite the citizens of every country to reflect on how hatred arises particularly from fear of 'the other' and of what is unfamiliar to us."

"Ours is a universal campaign, using instruments such as the internet, the world of social media, and artistic imagination, and it is unique, in that it calls the citizens of the world to action. At the same time, it fits perfectly with the values and history of Benetton, which chooses social issues and actively promotes humanitarian causes that could not otherwise have been communicated on a global scale, and in doing so has given a sense and a value to its brand, building a lasting dialogue with the people of the world."

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Image: Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority is shown kissing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photographs: Courtesy Benetton
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