The Vatican has gone beserk over a new Benetton ad campaign that shows Pope Benedict kissing Muslim leader Ahmed Tayeb, head of Al Azhar in Cairo. The ads also show other heads of state -- mostly men -- photoshopped into kissing scenes.
The Vatican has filed a lawsuit demanding that Benetton drop the "Unhate" ads, which are appearing in magazines and shop windows around the world.
"We are sorry that the use of an image of the pontiff and the imam should have offended the sensibilities of the faithful in this way," Benetton said in a statement.
The other ads show President Obama kissing Chinese leader Hu Jintao and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is shown kissing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is shown kissing French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.
Benetton has also started up a new website, "UnHateFoundation.org," which asks this question:
"What does UNHATE mean? UN-hate. Stop hating, if you were hating. 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."