Terrorists Learn Fireworks Safety

A fireworks safety advertising campaign in the Netherlands has ignited conversation over the line between humour and insensitivity relating to terrorism, religion and ethnicity. The viral campaign for stichting Consument en Veiligheid (Consumer Safety) shows members of The Liberation Army Against Freedom (LAAF), a fictitious Islamic terrorist organisation in Tajikistan, discovering how similar fireworks are to explosives. The campaign follows on from the 2006 campaign featuring Chinese fireworks manufacturer Li-Kung Lee.

Mother Of All Rockets

LAAF imagery

Four videos show a splinter cell led by Sheikh Abdullah Yussin, trying to find a safe way to let off fireworks. The terrorists, speaking in an Iraqi dialect of Arabic, provide a slapstick comedy approach that appears to have cheered up the Dutch population no end! Videos are available on YouTube with subtitles in Dutch and English.

LAAF Arms Arriving

The LAAF cell takes delivery of a truckload of fireworks, including Funky Fountain and Happy Blossom. The truck driver isn’t sure about the cameraman but is assured that he’s a friend. Fireworks are explosives as well. Never light them in your hand, and watch out for bystanders.

Click on the image below to play the video.

Mother of all Rockets

The Mother of all Rockets is hurriedly placed in an urn while the splinter cell members take cover. The results remind us to always put fireworks in a weighted down bottle on a level surface.

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Eternal Rains of Fire

A cell member is told to use sunglasses while he lights the Funky Fountain with a fire brand. Unfortunately he can’t see what he’s doing. We’re reminded to always use a safety fuse and preferably use safety glasses.

Click on the image below to play the video.

Fiery Mountain

The LAAF cell play with fireworks in their cave hideout. It’s not a good idea to light fireworks inside!

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The LAAF campaign was developed at Selmore, Amsterdam, by creative director/copywriter Poppe van Pelt and creative director/art director Diederick Hillenius.

Filming was shot by director Willem Gerritsen via Comrad, Amsterdam, with director of photography Rolf Dekens, producers Bo Polak and Emelie van Wensen, editor Martin Heijgelaar. Online work was done at Hectic Electric. Sound was designed by FC Walvisch.

“We needed to achieve maximum impact with this campaign, a challenge considering that not only is the message of being responsible poorly received but it is also repeated year after year, and the target have become somewhat desensitised to it – I think we will definitely get through to them this year,” said Poppe van Pelt.

Explanatory Note from the LAAF site…

L.A.A.F. was founded as splinter cel in 1957 by SHEIKH ABDULLAH YUSSIN of the left wing of Goriam Fathers at beginning of First Fight Against Freedom. L.A.A.F. calls for extermination of roots of freedom worldwide with the aid of great fireworks. Responses have been exciting for the Consumer safety group. There have been almost one million views of the videos since they were launched on December 6. Conversation on internet forums indicates a tension between just enjoying the fun of the campaign and being aware that terrorism is no laughing matter.

Mark Sweney at The Guardian sought responses from two Muslim experts in the UK.

“What is the campaign hoping to achieve by depicting a negative stereotype of the Muslim community in a fireworks advert?”, said Saad Saraf, the chief executive of multicultural marketing specialists Media Reach Advertising. Saraf, an Iraqi, was particularly offended by images in one ad that show one person strap fireworks around him in a style similar to a suicide belt, which later explodes.

“This is insensitive to society as a whole. Suicide bombings have destroyed many thousands of lives – using them in a humorous way is totally inappropriate. Are these adverts then for people who have not been affected by terrorism, suicide bombings and the invasion of Iraq in some way?”, said Saraf.

Inayat Bunglawala, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, did not think the ads were particularly offensive. “I thought they were very humorous public safety films”, he said. “Obviously there will always be some who find it to be in bad taste, but I thought it was done light-heartedly and funny and with clear educational value”.

via Marc van Gurp at Osocio