Amazon chose to highlight a moment of friendship between a Christian and a Muslim in its Christmas advertisement this year ― and it’s exactly the kind of interfaith solidarity the world needs to focus on right now.
Amidst reports that Islamophobia is on the rise in the United Kingdom and the United States, the online retail giant launched an advertising campaign on Wednesday that promotes the message that you don’t need to follow the same religion to be a good friend to your neighbor.
In the ad, an imam pays a visit to his pal, who happens to be a priest. The pair catch up and joke about the aches and pains of old age. At the end of the visit, both coincidentally decide to purchase the same gift online for each other ― kneepads that help them kneel while they pray.
Although the ad is scripted, its stars are real religious leaders from the U.K. The priest is Rev. Gary Bradley, vicar of a church in London, and the imam is Zubeir Hassam, principal of the Muslim School Oadby, in Leicester.
Hassam told The Telegraph that even though it was a commercial, the script seemed to mirror his life.
“This is what I do in the community – I didn’t do any acting I was just being myself,” he said. “With all the bad publicity we have got this is a very, very positive ad showing that people of different faiths can get together.”
According to the Guardian, Amazon consulted with the Church of England, the Muslim Council of Great Britain and the Christian Muslim Forum to make sure that the commercial was respectful of each religious tradition.
“We think it is an authentic and charming story,” said Simon Morris, director of advertising at Amazon. “We think it is a legitimate story. We are conscious that some people may be sensitive to it. It is about selflessness and thinking of other people.”
Christmastime in the U.K. is a busy season for advertisers, with companies spending millions of dollars on campaigns and battling with each other to make the biggest splash. The BBC reports that retailers in the U.K. are expected to spend more than $6.9 million dollars on ads during the 2016 holiday season.
The campaign will run in the U.S., the U.K., and Germany this year.