EGYPT: Coca-Cola cleared of blasphemy by Muslim leaders
Coca-Cola breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when Muslim religious leaders in Egypt cleared the brand of containing blasphemy within its logo.Coca-Cola had contacted Egypt's top religious leader, the mufti, to put a stop to rumours that the 114-year-old logo contained the words "No Mohammed, No Mecca" in Arab script. The multi-national company had feared a boycott of the product.The mufti, Nasr Farid Wasel, scrutinised the logo before he concluded: "There was no defamation to the religion of Islam from near or far." His edict then went on to remind followers that anyone spreading false claims "would be plunged into hell for 70 autumns."Coca-Cola spokesman Mahmoud Hamdi said of those believing the rumours: "They have a lot of imagination. Who would have thought that anyone would try to read English letters in Arabic? Why not read the Coca-Cola logo in Hindi."The rumour spread in February, when Egyptians began receiving emails carrying the mirror image of the logo and calling for the faithful to boycott the brand. Hamdi said that soon leaflets carrying the claim appeared in markets. Similar claims had arisen and been crushed in Saudi Arabia last year.
May 23, 2000