A Saudi production company has sparked outrage by tricking people into believing they were about to be victims of a suicide bomb attack.
In a three-minute video titled Come On, an actor with a fake beard poses as a taxi driver. Shortly after picking up his passengers, he starts talking about the virtues of jihad and how a suicide attack would allow him to enter paradise. The cabbie then reveals what appears to be a suicide belt to his fares.
In one sequence, the driver asks a teenager, "Do you ever consider Jihad?" He then reveals his fake explosive belt to the boy, and says, "We're going to bomb the compound and you will be with me… you will be a martyr with me."
"Don't you want to go to heaven?" the driver asks.
The boy begins to cry and begs the man to stop the car. The driver then points at a hidden camera on the car's dashboard. "Look," he says. "This was an act, so we can show people that terrorists scare Muslims. Don't cry my son."
In another sequence, the driver reveals the suicide belt to a different teenage boy, who looks visibly horrified. When the driver refuses to stop the car, the boy jumps out of the moving vehicle and runs. The driver catches up with him to tell him he was pranked.
During the final sequence, two older, male passengers attempt to restrain the driver so he cannot detonate his belt, forcing him to stop the car.
The video caused an uproar on social media, with many viewers unimpressed that the production company appeared to be making light of what many Saudis consider a genuine threat.
In 2015, there were three separate suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia, all of which were claimed by extremist groups. In more volatile parts of the Middle East, car bombings occur frequently, often with devastating consequences.
According to Gulf News, the production company claims that the videos were intended to be educational and inform the public about the dangers of suicide bombs. Some Saudis have reportedly called for the government to take "punitive action" against the company and the actors involved in the stunt.
Last October, Saudi police detained a Saudi teenager who placed a prank call saying he was going to carry out a suicide bomb attack at a local mosque on the third day of Eid. The teen reportedly used a mobile phone app that enabled him to change his voice and phone number. Prosecutors reportedly accused the teen of "disturbing other people and frightening them through the use of a mobile application, as well as disturbing the security authorities."
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