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Egypt apologies for constitution banner blunder

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[December 17, 2013]  CAIRO (Reuters)  Egypt has apologized for a banner promoting the new constitution that misspelt the word "Egyptians" and carried images of foreigners instead of locals, embarrassing the government as it tries to rally support for the document.

The draft constitution, which will be put to a mid-January referendum, is an important milestone in the political transition plan mapped out by the army after it deposed elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July.

The banner was unfurled at a high-profile news conference on Sunday to promote the constitution. The Arabic text misspelt the word "Egyptians" as "determined" and Google image searches identified three of five people in the banner as foreigners.

In English, the banner read "All Egyptians Constitution".

In a statement received on Tuesday, the State Information Service (SIS) apologized for the misspelling but did not mention the controversy over the nationalities of the people portrayed in the banner.


"The SIS formally apologizes for the error found in the banner... (It) was delivered hours before the conference began as a donation by a non-governmental organization promoting the constitutional draft," the SIS said.

An anchor at a morning program on Mega FM, a privately-owned Egyptian radio station, criticized the banner on Tuesday for not accurately representing the Egyptian people.

"It would have been nice if the ad that was representing Egyptians and targets Egyptians actually had Egyptians in it and not a Canadian handicapped person, an American doctor and an Irishwoman," Khaled Alish said on his radio program, referring to the three people in the banner identified as foreigners.

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"Also 80 percent of Egyptian women wear a headscarf and most men have beards and moustaches, so it would have been nice to have people who look like that to make sense," Alish said. "It was a mistake and it needs to be investigated."

SIS said it had determined the error was unintentional.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif and Yasmine Saleh; editing by Tom Perry and Alistair Lyon)

[ 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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