September 18, 2005

I scream cones and holy war

Just read a post and comments over at Emperor Misha's about a story written here. More details here.


Burger King is to withdraw thousands of ice-cream cones because the design on the packaging resembles the Arab word for Allah.

The company has acted after the coincidence was spotted by a Muslim customer, Rashad Akhtar, at its Park Royal outlet last week (6), who later telephoned its head office to say that the packaging was sacrilegious.

The Muslim Council of Britain has backed the change.

A statement by Burger King (BK) to Eastern Eye said: "The design on the lids of our cones represents a spinning ice-cream cone.

"However, as a result of the feedback we have received, our supplier is amending the lid design."

The US fast-food giant said it would withdraw the packaging in "the near future" once an alternative has been designed.

But the action has failed to satisfy Akhtar, who wants the designer sacked and is calling on Muslims to boycott the fast-food company.

Akhtar, 27, of High Wycombe, who is married and a business development manager, said: "Them [BK] recalling this product is not sufficient. It should be taken away from the stores now.

"I have had no correspondence from Burger King.

"These people who have designed this think they can get away with this again and again. 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.

"I ordered my food and then got talking to a worker, a French guy.

"He asked me: 'Are you Muslim?'

"He showed me the cone.

"I felt humiliated."

The design change is likely to cost Burger King a lot of money. Even the small restaurants, such as in Whitechapel Road, order about 80 ice cream packages a week.

MCB spokesman Inayat Bunglawala said: "It is true that seen from a certain angle, the design on the BK ice cream lid could be read as closely resembling the word Allah in Arabic.

"We commend the sensitive and prompt action BK have taken to prevent any hurt being caused to the religious sensibilities of others by this."

It is not the first time Burger King has upset Muslims. In 1999, several Islamic organisations called for a worldwide boycott after the chain opened an eatery in the Israeli West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, considered by Palestinians to be illegally occupied territory.

Just for the curious, here is the Arabic word for Allah:


And here is the controversial Burger King ice cream cone lid, turned 90+ degrees counter-clockwise:


Is this controversy about something, or is it a lot of nothing? I report. You decide.

Extra credit: Compare and contrast this brouhaha with the outrage over the Flight 93 "crescent of embrace" memorial -- and the announcement of it's redesign. How is it similar? How is it different? Discuss...

Posted by Tuning Spork at September 18, 2005 11:55 AM | TrackBack

Much ado about nothing.

I say this because to see even the minimal resemblance requires turning the graphic on its side. Read upright as it was designed, it is nothing more than a graphic representation of a soft-serve ice cream cone.

The primary differences I see in this are context, meaning and scale. The Flight 93 memorial is meant to mark and emotionally powerful moment in American history. To do that via a recognized symbol of the religion in the name of which the 9/11 attacks were carried out is an insult.

An illustration of ice cream turned on its side is an irrelevance of epic proportions.

It is also worth noting that the "Crescent of Embrace" was a fairly accurate representation if the Islamic crescent. The resemblance between the sideways ice cream and the Arabic word for Allah is minimal.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at September 19, 2005 08:13 PM

I agree with both you and Stephen. Although I feel it important to point out that both illustrations have these boobie looking things hanging down. Thus proving that boobies are everywhere.

Posted by: RP at September 20, 2005 06:53 AM

I just clicked on a popup ad and RP, you're right!!!

Posted by: Ted at September 20, 2005 06:59 PM

The BK lid also kinda looks like the word "owl" written longhand. Should ornothologists be outraged? Hmmmm....

Posted by: Tuning Spork at September 20, 2005 07:34 PM

What I can't figure out: How did they know that Allah-in-an-ice-cream-cone is a bad thing?

On an (un)related note: Did you know that it is forbidden to wear underwear during the hajj?

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at September 21, 2005 09:54 AM

I say this guy is missing out on a money-making goldmine. Instead of being insulted, he should take the lids and put them up for grabs to the highest bidder on Arab Ebay. Hey, it worked for grilled cheese and Jesus!

Posted by: Tex at September 27, 2005 03:08 PM
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