(/sites/default/files/uploads/2014/09/eg_mbrhd.jpg)The world of public relations is filled with constant pressures and moving parts. As CEO of one of the largest US PR firms, I know and understand the intricacies of spin.
Last week, the Emirate of Qatar hired one of the world’s largest PR agencies, Portland Communications, “for a communications/political push targeted at Congress and federal agencies to improve ties with the United States.” Qatar follows sharia law and has numerous human rights issues. On the heels of that partnership comes the revelation that recently released federal government filings indicate that Burson-Marsteller, one of the world’s leading PR firms has been hired to improve the foreign image of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired organization. The Ennahda Party has good reasons to have close American ties given the upheaval Islamist-backed governments have caused in the Middle East.
While paying homage to Middle Eastern money isn’t an anomaly to only the PR industry, the shock is that the same firm taking money from the Muslim Brotherhood refused to work for Israel, calling the Jewish State “highly controversial.” Sigurd Grytten, Managing Director of Burson-Marsteller, refused Israel’s request for a meeting, explaining, “We will not deliver tender to such a project … we are running a commercial venture. If we accept this project, this will create a great amount of negative reactions … Israel is a particularly controversial project.”
[T]he movement’s members have been implicated in both incitement and violent actions against Tunisian and foreign targets. The party supported the 1979 embassy takeover in Iran, and evidence suggests it was responsible for bombing four tourist hotels in the 1980s.
A party leader “called for attacks on US interests in the Middle East in response to America’s invasion of Iraq in the Gulf War,” and more recently, the organization spoke of “victory” of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza, and opposes relations with Israel.
In the eyes of my peers in the PR industry, a party inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood is mainstream – and Israel is “a particularly controversial project.” Fascinating times we live in.
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