When UK brewery giant Greene King decided to decorate its pubs with World Cup bunting, it had no inkling that such an act would annoy Muslims.
Why? Because the flags of the 32 competing nations included one from Saudi Arabia, which proclaims:
There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet.
And you can’t put a flag with an Islamic religious message anywhere near a pub because Muslims will have no truck with alcohol.
According to this report, Greene King first learned that it had trouble on its hands when complaints were made by London Muslims about the bunting on display at the Air Balloon pub in Bristol.
The brewery took fright and decided to cut the flag from bunting at ALL of its pubs. It owns more than 3,000 in the UK.
The flags of six other Islamic nations which are competing in the World Cup – Iran, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia – remain in the bunting because none feature Islamic text.
A Greene King spokesperson said:
Customers? Surely not.
To celebrate the World Cup, we have been displaying the flags of the participating nations to promote what we hope will be a great tournament for all.
Following feedback from some customers in London about displaying the Saudi Arabia flag in a pub, we understand it was inappropriate as it contains the religiously-significant Islam Shahada in Arabic and so we have removed it.
In reporting this story, the BBC managed to avoid any mention of Muslim outrage, and referred only to “customers”. It did point out, though, that:
The Saudi flag carries the Shahadah – the Muslim profession of faith.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn
• The photo used to illustrate this piece was found on Amazon UK, which is selling the bunting with the Saudi flag intact.