CAIRO - A commercial depicting Jesus Christ as walking on water has sparked an outcry from Christians and Muslims in South Africa, forcing an energy-drink maker to drop the advertisement, The Telegraph reported Thursday, March 15.
"It is never our intention to hurt anyone's feelings," energy-drink maker Red Bull said in a statement.
The company ran an ad depicting Jesus walking on water because he had been invigorated by a miraculous energy drink and knew where there were hidden rocks to tread on.
The commercial shows Jesus' disciples in disbelief, with one saying he has performed a miracle while others suggest he is able to walk on water because Red Bull gives you wings.
But the commercial drew fire from Christians and Muslims in the African country.
The southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference called on Catholics to fast from Red Bull until Easter to send a message to the company.
"While the Red Bull adverts are characterized by their cleverness, we believe that Red Bull South Africa have overstepped a mark," spokesman Cardinal Wilfred Napier said in a statement.
"Red Bull SA will understand that the idea that there is 'no such thing as bad publicity' is dangerous territory when it comes to mocking religious symbols.
"In a multi-faith country like South Africa, where over 70 percent of people profess to be people of faith, the use of faith-based symbols in a satirical, if tongue-in-check manner, is guaranteed to cause a reaction.
Chris Townsend, an official of the Bishops Conference in South Africa, called for respecting religious sensitivities.
"There is a need for a new sensitivity toward people's beliefs," he said.
As on this occasion, people become very deeply offended.
The commercial has also angered South African Muslims.
South Africa's Muslim Judicial Council said in a message to Cardinal Napier that any insult and satire of Jesus targeted the very foundation of Islamic theology.
It said the ad was hurtful to Christianity, Islam and all other religions, warning of the consequences of secular extremism against religious beliefs.
We wish that our voices can be united to make clear to any secular extremist that any attack or defacement of religious symbols and sacred spaces is not acceptable.
Muslims believe in Jesus as one of the great Prophets of God and that he is the son of Mary but not the Son of God. He was conceived and born miraculously.
In the Noble Qur'an, Jesus is called "Isa". He is also known as Al-Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (Son of Mary).
As for his crucifixion, Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified but was lifted up to heaven.
Muslims believe that Jesus will come back to earth before the end of time to restore peace and order, fight the Anti-Christ (Al-Masih Al-Dajjal) and bring victory for truth and righteousness.The true followers of Jesus will prevail over those who deny him, misrepresent him and reject him.