It's been just one week since the Egyptian government labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, but the government has wasted no time identifying the, um, puppets spreading the Brotherhood's messages. Really. The puppets Abla Fahita and her daughter Karkoura, the two felt-and-yarn creations featured in Vodafone Egypt's latest ad campaign, are being investigated, along with telecoms giant Vodafone, for starring in an ad that allegedly contains a coded signal for a bomb plot.
Oh, and puppet Able Fahita had to go on-air to protest her innocence.
Wait... what? Well, according to Egyptian state security, the ad's reference to the SIM card of a deceased relative, and a "stuffed turkey," are code for a bomb plot cooked up by the Muslim Brotherhood. Vodafone strongly disagreed, telling Reuters that the popular puppet characters were used to promote a SIM card offer and nothing else. Any other ideas "are pure fiction and personal opinions," Vodafone added.
So where did the accusations come from? Well, not from a government cell investigating terrorist activity, but a youth activist called Ahmed Spider. An ardent supporter of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, Spider "decoded" the suspicious TV advert on the Al-Tahrir network Tuesday night, explaining how references to a mall and a dog refer to the planned site of the attack, and that "Mama Touta", an unseen character discussed by the puppets, is actually the Muslim Brotherhood's secret moniker.
"The dog, garage, guard, mall and next to us these are elements tell us that there will be a big mall and an explosion after a dog fails to find the bomb in a car," said Spider.
The Egyptian government investigated Spider's theory after the young actvisit filed an official complaint with Egypt's prosecutor general.
Support for beloved puppet Abla Fahita swiftly gained a following on Twitter with a #Free_Fahita hashtag. The puppet herself took to the airwaves to mount her defense: "I am a comedic character," she said in a Skype interview with Egypt's CBC network. That's right: A puppet went on-air to maintain her innocence.
Egypt has cracked down heavily on the Muslim Brotherhood since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in July. But a recent series of bomb attacks have put the Egyptian government on high alert for terrorist activity once more. Until those tensions dissipate, expect more suspects — whether they be human, animal, or puppet — to face similar interrogation.