Belgian arms maker forces US arm to pull controversial ad after backlash – POLITICO

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The US subsidiary of Belgium’s top arms maker FN Herstal has been forced to take down an advertising video which critics say encourages wanton violence.

The a d, posted by FN America on Twitter to celebrate Independence Day on July 4, showed three individuals – dressed as the Statue of Liberty, Uncle Sam and an American bald eagle – driving through the desert on a pickup truck with heavy rock music playing in the Background. They pull over, pull out automatic rifles from the trunk of the vehicle, and shoot fireworks to detonate them. The accompanying tweet read, “Remember, if you’re going to celebrate, do it the FN way.”

The video and accompanying tweet were taken down on Tuesday afternoon.

The parent company FN Herstal is wholly owned by the Walloon Region of Belgium. The announcement, released on the same day that a mass shooting in Chicago left six people dead and 30 injured, was not well received in Belgium.

The publication of the video was “scandalous and irresponsible”, said Olivier Bierin, Walloon Green MP. “We are witnessing a playful and playful use of weapons of war supposed to be used in a strict professional framework by the military. This gives a completely irresponsible image of the use of weapons.

Amnesty Belgium’s advocacy officer, François Graas, called the video a “more delirious communication than usual”, wondering how the Walloon government still “tolerate this nonsense”.

“Isn’t this video borderline for a public company (and even for a private company) given the context with firearms in the USA????” a Belgian journalist tweeted.

A spokesman for Walloon Economy Minister Willy Borsus, who is in charge of SRIW, the Walloon organization that owns FN Herstal, said: “In fact, FN told us that he had asked his U.S. subsidiary to immediately remove the video,” adding that the ad was “totally inappropriate.”

“The management of the FN Herstal group has taken note of the video released yesterday by its American subsidiary on the occasion of the United States Independence Day. She immediately asked her subsidiary to remove this video,” the parent company said in a statement.

“The Group’s management will implement all necessary means to ensure that this type of communication does not happen again in the future.

Bierin, the MP, is expected to question the regional government on Tuesday and raise the issue with Borsus.

The purpose of the intervention, Bierin said, is to “put structural guidelines in place so that this doesn’t happen again, and not to react on a case-by-case basis.”

This article has been updated with a response from FN Herstal.

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