INDIA: Muslims accuse coke of blasphemy
A Muslim cleric in India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh, also home to the largest Moslem contingent of 20m people, has accused the Coca-Cola logo of being blasphemous to Islam.
Kalbe Jawad, claims the mirror image of the Coca-Cola logo reads "La Mohammed, La Mecca" in Arabic, which, roughly translated, means there is no Mohammed and no Mecca (Mohammed is the revered prophet of Muslims, and Mecca is the holy site of their pilgrimage).
Responding to the allegation, Coca Cola India's corporate affairs Irfan Khan, himself a Muslim, is reported to have said that the company will give an appropriate response to the allegations when it has received comment in writing.
This is not the first time Coke has faced this allegation. Last year, Muslim leaders in Egypt expressed concerns that the mirror image could be misinterpreted but concluded there was no "defamation to the Islam religion from near or far".
Younus Agrami, head of the Arabic Department at the University of Lucknow (capital of Uttar Pradesh), however, said he has not yet seen the mirror image of the logo, but if true, it must be rectified.
Muslims constitute a sixth of India's population, and its largest minority. Hindu-Muslim relations have been severely strained this last decade, fanned by the fundamentalist BJP party heading the coalition currently ruling Delhi with most of the friction spots are in Uttar Pradesh.
These latest allegations could prove a PR disaster for Coca-Cola and will most certainly test the skills and diplomacy of its Indian management.
Companies: Pernod Ricard
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