The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on Tuesday that has defended itself, arguing that it featured the Al-Qaeda terrorist “for his hair, not terrorism” and saying that it did not know his identity.
The ad for the hair removal product reads, in Turkish, “Waiting won’t get rid of that hair!” or, more literally, “The hair will not go away because you keep waiting!” according to the Hurriyet.
The slogan is accompanied by a photo of Mohammed, who is currently being held in Guantanamo Bay and faces the death penalty if convicted.
“We didn’t know that he was a terrorist. This image is in popular use in Turkish memes . The guy is quite hairy, so we thought his body was a good fit for our ad,” Mehmet Can Yıldız, a representative for the cosmetics company, told Hurriyet via phone on Tuesday.
Yıldız said the company had the image on a Turkish onlinesocial, adding, “Several popular caps [humorously captioned images] were produced with his photo. Most were related to insomnia.”
“We didn’t want to imply anything political. We didn’t know that it could become an story. I repeat: We featured him for his hair, not terrorism,” Yıldız reiterated.