Watchdog bans ads featuring site of asylum seeker's murder

A SERIES of graphic adverts for mobile phone giant Nokia featuring the murder scene of an asylum seeker in Scotland have been banned by watchdogs for causing "serious or widespread" offence.

The adverts for the Nokia 300 N-Gage computer games consoles were part of a launch campaign shot at various locations, including the exact spot in Glasgow where Turkish Kurd immigrant Firsat Dag was stabbed and beaten to death.

Under a picture of a footpath in the Sighthill area of the city where 25-year-old Dag was left to bleed to death, the advert said: "This is where I got a good beating."

A later scene in the same TV advert showed gravestones in nearby Sighthill cemetery and carried the caption: "This is where I came back to life."

Four ads from the campaign for the mobile phone/games console have now been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority after complaints from people across the UK.

The controversial commercial featuring the Dag murder scene had already been withdrawn by Nokia prior to the ASA ban after the firm was alerted to the significance of its location.

Today the Dag family praised the watchdog for being tough on "insensitive" big businesses who had upset "some of the most vulnerable people in society" in order to sell a product.

Mohammad Naveen Asif, a spokesman for the Dag family, said: "This decision will be welcomed by Firsat’s family in particular and the asylum seeking community in general.

"It is very pleasing to note that a multi-million-pound company can be taken to task for its insensitivity. They have now been made aware how upsetting messages like this can be to some of the most vulnerable people in society."

Dag was walking home from Glasgow city centre with a friend in 2001 when he was set upon in Sighthill Park by 26-year-old Scott Burrell, who stabbed the young Kurd to death.

Burrell was found guilty of murder and is currently serving life in prison with a minimum term of 14 years.

The case prompted criticism of the dispersal system and the heavy concentration of asylum seekers in deprived urban areas where they faced being stigmatised, abused and attacked.

When the Nokia advert featuring the Dag murder scene was revealed, the firm was widely derided for shocking insensitivity. The Dag family reportedly lashed out at the multimillion-pound mobile phone giant, accusing bosses of "using their son’s blood" to sell products.

A spokesman for refugees in Glasgow said at the time: "It is not ethical that people make money from grief. The advert should be taken off the air."

The new ASA ruling bans Nokia from using four other controversial adverts for the combined mobile phone/handheld games console following complaints from the public.

One of the banned adverts in the series appeared as a poster and showed a photograph of an alleyway at night.

The text in the middle of the advertisement stated: "I took on three guys and made them cry like babies."

It was singled out by the ASA as "likely to cause serious or widespread offence" to readers. It could also, said the ASA, "be seen to condone or encourage violence".

A spokesman for Nokia said: "We would like to express our apologies to the few people who were offended by the advertising campaign. This was not the intent."

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