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Berlin pulls ad giving the mask-less the finger

BERLIN, Oct 14 (Reuters) - The German capital pulled an advert on Wednesday that had featured an elderly woman wearing a face mask showing the middle finger to those who do not follow rules aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus after a storm of protest.

The advert entitled “We stick to the corona rules” was launched on Tuesday, but immediately drew fierce criticism on social media, with commentators saying the image was divisive.

Above the image of the woman wearing a floral-patterned mask and giving onlookers the finger, the poster said: “The wagging finger for anyone without a mask.”

“It is a provocative image,” said Christian Taenzler, a spokesman for the Visit Berlin organisation the promotes the city.

He said the ad had attracted positive and negative feedback, adding that while this image would be dropped, a campaign launched last month that seeks to play on the city’s notoriously dry humour to promote coronavirus rules would continue.

Marcel Luthe, a member of the Berlin senate, said he had made a formal complaint to the police about the ad, saying it incited hatred against all those who cannot wear a mask, such as young children and those with hearing or other health issues.

Thousands of people have joined several protests held in Berlin in recent months to demonstrate against lockdown measures and mask-wearing rules that have been imposed since the pandemic erupted in March.

Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Alison Williams

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