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Optus removes Arabic ad after complaints

Optus has been fined for telling customers that their home internet was being disconnected and they should switch to Optus. Photo: AAP
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An Optus advertisement written in Arabic has been removed from a Sydney mall after store staff were allegedly threatened.

Angry customers have been denouncing the ads on the telecommunications company’s Facebook page for the past 24 hours, with some saying it’s inappropriate to display the advertisements in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

“What’s with the Optus, Casula shopping centre advertisement board, not one word of English on it? Very poor taste considering the weekend’s events,” one post read.

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Optus removed the ads from Casula Mall in Sydney’s southwest on Monday.

Users took to social media to complain. Photo: Facebook

An Optus spokesperson said: “Following a threat to our store staff, we made the decision to remove some materials that were published in Arabic. The safety and security of our staff is paramount.”

Optus also explained the advertisements were advising Arabic speakers that there were staff members in store who could speak the language.

“In some communities we actively promote the bilingual skills of our front line staff,” it said in a statement.

“We recognise that sometimes customers find it easier to understand the detail of a phone plan when it’s explained in their first language.”

Optus said the posters translated in English as: “We speak your language. Come to one of these Optus stores and chat to us in Arabic.”

Another Facebook user posted said: “It is a language that is NOT used by hundreds of thousands here in Australia!! Disgusting Optus!!”

In a series of replies on the company’s Facebook account, Optus said it had posters in other languages.

“We also have posters in Vietnamese and Chinese. What happened on the weekend was a tragedy. The poster is in a language that is used by hundreds of millions of people,” Optus employee Gen wrote.

The company also had to explain that Islam is a religion, not a country, after some of the complaints linked Arabic with terrorism.


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