Middle Eastern satirical website The Pan-Arabia Enquirer got in hot water with a public relations firm over a recent article it wrote which said the company was representing the terrorist group ISIS — and it ended up deleting the article — but not without issuing a brilliant and hilarious public “apology” of sorts.
It was a pretty short article — just two paragraphs — but offered this deadpan quote typical of PR types: “We’ve been closely watching ISIS transform into the Islamic State and are now delighted to reveal that we’ll be able to use our expertise to help steer this engaging and fast-moving brand onto the next stage of its exciting journey,” a Bell Pottinger spokesperson said in a statement.
Obviously, it’s fake news, and that quote is in no way real. And while it would seem crazy for a PR firm to represent ISIS, the Enquirer’s story isn’t terribly off the mark.
A profile in The Guardian newspaper noted a number of Bell Pottinger’s big clients:
The government of Sri Lanka; FW de Klerk, when he ran against Nelson Mandela for president of South Africa; Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted Thai premier, whom protesters claim still controls the country; Asma al-Assad, the wife of the president of Syria; Alexander Lukashenko, the dictator of Belarus; Rebekah Brooks after the phone-hacking scandal broke; the repressive governments of Bahrain and Egypt; the American occupying administration in Iraq; the polluting oil company Trafigura; the fracking company Cuadrilla; the athlete Oscar Pistorius after he was charged with murder; the Pinochet Foundation during its campaign against the former Chilean dictator’s British detention; the much-criticised arms conglomerate BAE Systems — Bell or Bell Pottinger has represented all of them.
Still, the company apparently took issue, and the Enquirer took down the post and issued a brilliant apology (You can see still the satirical article via Google cache):
Earlier today we deleted a story of ours. We shall me making a statement shortly (possibly tomorrow when we’ve had a chance to write it).
— Pan-Arabia Enquirer (@arabiaenquirer) August 25, 2014
“Yesterday we received a complaint about one of our articles and subsequently removed it from The Pan-Arabia Enquirer website,” the site wrote on its Facebook page (although this too was later removed). “Following on from this, we would like to offer our apologies to PR firm Bell Pottinger for a satirical story that suggested it had won the account to represent the Islamic State. Although the article was entirely in jest, we feel we must apologise for any sullying of the name of a company whose standing in the international community is reflected in a client list that has included the likes of Augusto Pinochet and the government of Bahrain. Oh, and the government of Sri Lanka. And Rolf Harris.”
The Pan-Arabia Enquirer started out as The Dubai Enquirer back in 2005 and has grown considerably, now attracting more than 400,000 pageviews each month, the site claims. The site, which is written in English by anonymous writers, has other headlines like “New Islamic State jihadist accidentally packs wrong black flag” and “Egypt relieved as threat of democracy recedes.“
Business Insider reached out to Bell Pottinger and the Pan-Arabian Enquirer for comment and will update if we hear back.
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