Monday, September 19, 2005

Lunchtime Loonacy

Ok, folks. Hang on to your hat.

From The Scotsman via FARK:

Burger King recalls 'sacrilegious' desserts

The fast-food chain, Burger King, is withdrawing its ice-cream cones
after the lid of the dessert offended a Muslim.
The man claimed the design resembled the Arabic inscription for Allah, and branded it sacrilegious, threatening a "jihad".
The chain is being forced to spend thousands of pounds redesigning the lid with backing from The Muslim Council of Britain. It apologised and said: "The design simply represents a spinning ice-cream cone.

The offending lid was spotted in a branch in Park Royal last week by
business development manager Rashad Akhtar, 27, of High Wycombe.
He was not satisfied by the decision to withdraw the cones and has called on Muslims to boycott Burger King. He said: "This is my jihad. How can you say it is a
spinning swirl? If you spin it one way to the right you are offending Muslims."

A Muslim Council spokesman said: "We commend the sensitive and prompt action that Burger King has taken."

Now you might just think that this is another example of one lone fool with his turban wrapped too tight, but it's not. According to another story Burger King recieved "dozens of complaints." What is the culprit here? Burger King's insensitivity? Why would Burger king want to put "Allah" on its ice cream cones for chrissakes? Maybe it's just that the Arabic written languge, already incomprehensible to westerners, permits permits its viewrs to derive offense at simple symbols by holding them just right and then squinting. Look at the history in the NEWSMAX story:

  • In 1997, Nike pulled tens of thousands of basketball shoes after it was told that the logo - the word "air" in flame-like letters - looked like "Allah" in Arabic when viewed from a certain angle.Newsweek reported in July of that year that Nike had launched a program of "sensitivity training on Islam" and gave a donation to an Islamic school.

  • A year later, Unilever scrapped a new logo it had begun to use on Walls ice creams in the Middle East - again after Muslims said the intertwining red and yellow hearts looked like "Allah" in Arabic, when viewed upside down and backwards.

  • In 1994, Lagerfeld designed a dress incorporating a pattern he had copied from Arabic lettering on India's Taj Mahal monument. The lettering included the phrase "They are the ones who found guidance," used a number of times in the Koran. German supermodel Claudia Schiffer received death threats after wearing the dress, prompting her mother to make a public plea for her safety. The designer apologized and burned the garments. He also destroyed photographs and negatives of the dress.

  • Coca Cola has for years struggled to dispel the rumor that the soft drink's trademark swirly-writing logo, when seen at a particular angle, looked like the Arabic script for "No Mohammed, No Mecca." The company's website has a "myths and rumors" section where it contests the charge, arguing that "the trademark was created in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia, at a time and place where there was little knowledge of Arabic. The allegation has been brought before a number of senior Muslim clerics in the Middle East who researched it in detail and refuted the rumor outright," it says.
Now I am not saying that these people have all received their masters from the Jesse Jackson School of Phoney Outrage and Corporate Shakedown, but where is this going to stop?

Look at this baby blanket:

Now look at this script:

Can another "jihad" be far behind?


Cassandra said...

I've been hearing about this for days, but hadn't heard about the 'from a certain angle', angle.

But then to be honest I never read the story either - I couldn't quite summon up the requisite degree of outrage. This stuff is getting so common it is becoming a cliche.

portia said...

Well, it's clear these Muslims don't possess the capitalist drive of us infidels. I mean if a burnt cheese sandwich with the Blessed Virgin's face can fetch thousands on e-bay, how much do you think an ice cream swirl that spells Allah is worth? How about Allah on a corn dog?

Two questions: What the &%$@ was he doing at Burger King? And since when are Burger Kings Halaal?

Something tells me our jihad-spouting friend is in big trouble with that guy on the ice-cream cone lid.

Cassandra said...

Well to be fair there's a basic difference, as I pointed out on another forum. Christians don't view visual representations of the Deity as sacriligious. We have great words of Art that depict Christ. You won't find that in the Muslim world - it is Anathema.

The Koran proscribes any representation of Allah or his works - even to the point of not allowing visual representations of some of Allah's creations, for the most faithful. I can't be bothered to look this up, but I remember reading this when I was a young girl reading Crusade-era history - a very interesting period, by the way. I think it was the Moors in Spain.

I agree there is probably a bit of overreaction here, but there is also an element of cultural misunderstanding. We have a tendency to brand anything we don't care for as 'unreasonable', yet the very same thing is branded equally 'evil' or 'insulting' in the Arab world: we're just too ignorant of their culture to know where the lines are drawn.

I guess that's why, unless I've done a bit of checking, I take these things with a grain of salt. There was a brouhaha over the Saudi flag, which has a script containing the word "Allah". Because it does, special care must be taken with the flag to avoid sacrilege. Even to a Christian, this makes intuitive sense: it's a symbol.

Now think: what do you do with a wrapper - you throw it in the garbage. An unclean place.

Given the Arab world's (and the more general Semitic and Jewish Kosher) preoccupation with uncleanliness, perhaps we can understand the taboo here?

Y'all know I'm not big on taking the side of jihadis or race-baiters, but it's something to think about. And not every observant Jew observes Kosher, so perhaps not every observant Muslim observes Halaal? I have no idea - I freely admit my cultural ignorance.

My son's girlfriend is Jewish and they are not observant, but that does not keep being Jewish from being a deeply personal thing to the whole family, oddly enough. It's like being Catholic, or (dare I say?) Catholic Lite? In our bones, in not always in our hearts.

Cassandra said...


great worKs of Art

Pile On® said...

Shit great works of art?

I just don't have that kind of talent.

portia said...

Fair enough Cass. Not every Jew is Kosher. Not every Muslim calls for a jihad. But when someone cries "foul" in a non-observant establisment, I can't help question what he/she is doing there...what he/she is thinking.

I have a wonderful client who is an orthodox Jew who will not shake my hand each time we meet because he doesn't know whether I am menstruating...his religion forbids him to touch any woman who is. Does he stop coming to "my office? No. Do I stop extending my hand to him? Yes,I will never serve him lobster bisque for lunch")

I'm struck with the same question here: How do you live your day? Do you adapt? Understand? Turn a blind eye? Walk away? Or order a Whopper with double cheese and a non-Halaal ice-cream cone to go?

It's a big crazy, mixed up world...with room for all of the Kosher-loving, Halaal-blessed, no- fish-on Friday, vegan-limited, loin of pork sucking, bottom-fishing shrimp-eating devotees waiting to be fed.

I say find a good diner that adheres to your "kitchen" ...or eat at home:)

Cassandra said...

Well Pile, if you were truly dedicated to Art, I'm sure you could develop the ability.

Portia, I don't think this has anything to do with the preparation of food per se - I think you have to distinguish between narrower observances like Halaal and Kosher and more universal, broad-based cultural and religious norms that would be offensive to pretty much any Muslim, even if he/she isn't particularly observant.

Some things will only offend the extremely devout, but some are just plain going to bother most people because they touch on symbols that have at least some meaning to almost every member of the culture.

That's why I used the Saudi flag example. The Christian example would be this one: look at all the email hoaxes that go around telling you not to buy Coke, Pepsi, etc because they somehow disprespect the American flag or won't put "in God we trust" or the Pledge on their adverts, or whatever foolishness (I never read them all the way through so the details escape me right now).

Same principle, but that's OK b/c it's Amurrican, durnitall. A cherished symbol is being trashed and we don't like it one bit, so we launch economic jihad against Target, Pepsi, or whomever unless/until they are willing to decease [sic] and desist :)

If you want a religious parallel that will fail b/c it's more extreme (but not much really), I'm thinking of the 'hidden messages' in 70's rock albums that caused parents to boycott record stores that carried those albums (kids in service to Satan, etc). More silliness.

YOU HAD TO PLAY THE FREAKING RECORD BACKWARDS FOR PETE'S SAKE! So actually, that's a pretty good parallel, now that I think of it.

Cassandra said...

I keep returning to my son's girlfriend, but it's a good example. The family are Jewish, not particularly observant, but as I said, being Jewish is deeply a part of their identity and you'd best believe they would be offended at any disrespect shown to the Star of David.

Similarly, I suspect that the majority of lapsed Catholics would be made very uncomfortable at any slight to [name your symbol: the cross? the BVM? (I love to say that - it's one of my favorite things about the Brits - never fails to crack me up that even devout Catholics will refer to the Mother of God as the "BVM" - cheeky, that...)]

spd rdr said...

A lot of very serious thinking going on here...too much maybe. The fact remains that when I toss out a Fed Ex envelope I don't scrutinize the "X" and think to myself that it looks an awful lot like a crucifix and thus allow myself to be offended. It's not a religious symbol, it's a letter. When I toss the band-aid wrapper in the trash, the little red cross doesn't cause me to issue "jihad." It is a symbol connected with Christ, but not Christ Himself. The idea that Muslims should be offended by every curly cue that might, just might, look vaguely like an Arabic character that has something to do with their religion is a sign of enormous intellectual weakness. The world, at least the western world, does not revolve around Islam and Arabic characters. The swiggle on the ice cream cone lid is not "Allah" or a representation of Allah, and only a complete idiot would allow himself to think so. I care not one fig for such "sensitivities" when they are founded upon utter foolishness. "This is my jihad. How can you say it is a spinning swirl? If you spin it one way to the right you are offending Muslims." If you are so easily offended, friend, I suggest that you go live in a Mosque. Or pluck out thine eyes lest they offend ye.

Cassandra said...


My point was not that it was necessarily reasonable for them to be quite so bent out of shape, but merely that (a) getting their burkhas in a knot was hardly a uniquely Muslim phenomenon as has been suggested several places, and

(b) there are cultural reasons that might well cause them to take greater offense than might seem reasonable to us on first glance.


spd rdr said...

Sorry Cass.
I was cranky this morning.

KJ said...

Christ, what the hell is this sensitivity crap!

A symbol should be treated with care? Sure. I'll buy that.

But the spinning ice cream cone ISN'T A MUSLIM SYMBOL! It's a friggin' ice cream cone picture. No one was thinking about Allah.

IS and LOOKS LIKE are too different thing. They should be treated as such. A religious symbol and "looks like" a religious symbol aren't the same, and anyone making such absurd talk should be institutionalized or shot.

This whole discussion, after the initial "give me a break!" is absurd.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be only mostly right.

BTW, great post spd.

Cassandra said...

Yes, I thought it an interesting post too. That's why I took the time to comment on it, though I'd seen the same subject several other places.

The Caliph of Ice-Cream
by Walid al-Astifanis

Translated from the Arabic by Baron Bodissey

Call the killer of big kaffirs,
The crepuscular one, and bid him whip
In dungeon clasps recalcitrant Kurds.
Let the houris dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring bomb-belts inside their underpants.
Let Sheol be finale of scream.
The only caliph is the caliph of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser surreal,
Lacking the three front teeth, that burqa
On which she embroidered fatwas once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let imams fulfill the scheme.
The only caliph is the caliph of ice-cream.

spd rdr said...


a former european said...

Wow, a pissed-off, psycho Muslim! I never saw THAT coming.

By the way Spd, your moniker, when written in flowery, girly, cursive, lokks like "Muslims eat pigflesh" in Arabic. A fatwa has now been issued against you and hit squads from the "Religion of Peace" are headed your way.


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Pim's Ghost said...

haha!! This whole issue has proven so humorous to me as to have started a new blogger site dedicated to reporting on and querying just what the "ultimate insult" to muslims really is. It actually started with an article about some offensive ham. Please see

By the way, if you are able to find pics of Lagerfeld's dress, please let me know! I only remember it from 1994, but cannot find a picture now.


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