Some people love Kim Kardashian. Others hate her. And new on the list of fully-fledged haters are Islamic militants based in the tiny Gulf kingdom of Bahrain. Recently, over 100 militants turned out in Bahrain to welcome the reality TV star to their shores. This wasn’t the traditional greeting of Arab charm and mint tea; teargas was fired on militant protestors as they chanted “Syria receives martyrs while Bahrain receives whores.”
Bahrain has seen violent clashes between security forces and opposition protesters on numerous occasions over the last 18 months, including government crackdowns that have drawn the ire of human rights groups. Earlier in the week, a group of conservative Bahraini parliamentarians tried to ban Kardashian from visiting the country, citing her “bad reputation.” The motion never got off the ground, and all the while Kardashian correctly said nothing – until she made a mistaken Tweet. Then, she then managed to upset more than the militants.
In town to promote the opening of a franchise of milkshake shops, Kardashian met with fans who paid $1200 a ticket to be near the reality TV celebrity. Local media swooned over Kim’s fashion choices (white bandage dress with body panels, hair modestly pulled back) while Kardashian Tweeted photos of herself posing in front of camels. She then mistakenly Tweeted, “Thanks Sheikh Khalifa for your amazing hospitality. I’m in love with The Kingdom of Bahrain.”
Immediately, human rights groups asked, “Why is Kim Kardashian promoting the Bahraini dictatorship?”, likening the event to “milkshakes with a hint of torture, flavored with teargas.” Ouch! For someone who was not trying to take sides she was suddenly the in the middle of the fray.
The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) For Kim Kardashian for her “no comment” policy.
The PR Takeaway: Even a thank you note can cause trouble. Saying nothing requires discipline. For a while there, Kim Kardashian was handling the fuss over her arrival with relentless cheerfulness. Then, the mistaken Tweet. Staying out of the fray is not as easy as it sounds. Kim has now learned that this can even apply to a thank you note.
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