The owner of the Circuit Factory, a gym company based in Dubai, has apologized for putting out an advertisement featuring a photo of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz.
The advertisement, which was uploaded onto the gym's Facebook group, features the Circuit Factory Logo above a picture of the train tracks leading to the Auschwitz death camp with the slogan "Kiss Your Calories Goodbye."
Roughly 1.3 million people, mostly Jews, were killed at Auschwitz from starvation, backbreaking labor and gas chambers.
The photo has since been taken down by Phil Parkinson, founder of The Circuit Factory, who has issued an apology.
The Circuit Factory Facebook page had a new picture up today that reads, "Our values involve raising the quality of people's lives, through physical exercise. Not cruelty or suffering. We made a big mistake and we are truly sorry."
The apology has been grudgingly accepted by the Anti-Defamation League's National Director Abraham Foxman, who is a holocaust survivor. But he wondered whether the younger generations were aware of the horror of the Nazis' reign of terror.
"We are increasingly troubled by both the ignorance and mindset of a generation that appears to be so distant from a basic understanding of the Holocaust that it seems acceptable to use this horrific tragedy as a gimmick to bring attention to promoting losing weight," Foxman said in a statement on the group's webpage.
The advertisement has ignited a firestorm of criticism on Twitter
"Talk about poor judgment!" one user wrote.
"Outrageous, another one tweeted.
In the aftermath of the criticism, Parkinson issued contradictory statements, initially apologizing for the advertisement and then denying responsibility for it.
"I can't really do much more than apologize about this. I wish I could, but I can't," Parkinson tweeted. He added that the marketing person responsible for the advertisement had been fired.
However, the Circuit Factory's Facebook group told another story. There Parkinson seemed to imply that the advertisement was the work of someone unaffiliated with the gym. He posted a statement there saying
"*** IMPORTANT *** Hi Guys and Girls, a random guy just put up a poster with an image from the holocaust and it had the CF logo on it - It went on the CF Fan Page. This person was simply looking to stir up trouble and upset more people. It is sad because this page is used to recount stories of people's personal triumph, but we cannot stop people from using our logo in cyberspace ."
Although Circuit Factory Group page is functioning, the fan page for the gym has since been taken down.