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The New Arab Staff

Twitter outraged as UK government campaign tells 'Fatima' to get a proper job

The ad caused outrage on social media [Twitter]

Date of publication: 12 October, 2020

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The UK government has told people like ballet dancer 'Fatima' to find alternative jobs in tech amid a 'war on the arts'.
A UK government campaign aimed at encouraging people in the financially-hit arts sector to find alternative work has backfired due to its "crass messaging", causing the hashtag #Fatima to trend on Twitter.

HM Government's "Cyber First" media campaign - with the tagline of "Rethink. Reskill. Reboot" - used an image of a ballet dancer for its latest ad, saying: "Fatima's next job could be in cyber. (she just doesn't know it yet)."

It was aimed at people working in the arts who have been unable to perform live due to theatres, music venues, and galleries being shuttered in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

But the advert has led to mass backlash from those who suggest the messaging is crass and insensitive, belittling the years of hard work people like "Fatima" have put into their professions.

"How hideous is this. Fatima's dreams; dismissed, degraded, denounced," said one Twitter user.

Celebrities also engaged in the debate slamming the government for its calous approach to actors, musicians, and artists left without work.

It comes amid accusations that the ruling Conservative Party is engaged in a war on the (generally left-leaning) arts sector.

"This is unbelievable. The government is throwing the arts under a bus. #Fatima" he tweeted.

Others were also outraged by the move.
Politiicians, including Shadow Mental Health Minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, also waded into the debate. 

"Fatima, you be you. Don't let anyone else tell you that you aren't good enough because you don't conform to their preconceived social norms," she said.

The outrage forced the UK government's Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, to disown the ad, later on Monday.

"To those tweeting re #Fatima

This is not something from @DCMS & I agree it was crass

This was a partner campaign encouraging people from all walks of life to think about a career in cyber security

I want to save jobs in the arts which is why we are investing £1.57bn."

Downing Street, the prime minister's office and residence, also rejected the message.

"This was part of a campaign encouraging people from all walks of life to think about career in cyber-security, but this piece of content was not appropriate and has been removed," the PM's office said, according to the BBC.

Perhaps the most poignant message is that the government projecct would not be possible without "Fatima" (said to be an American model) - as well as a photographer, graphic designer, copywriter, and other creatives.

Even if the theatres have been closed, it appears the arts won't be silenced thanks to "Fatima".

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