Whole Foods Dishes Up Ramadan Tempest

Company embraces Muslim customers ... at first

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 10, 2011 2:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – Whole Foods has ended up with egg on its face after first touting Ramadan then running scared. The company decided to promote some of its halal foods for the Muslim holy month—then backed off when it was ripped by anti-Muslim bloggers. "Ramadan is fast approaching, and I'm getting my kitchen ready for a month of celebration," food writer Yvonne Mafei noted in the Whole Foods company blog last month. The company offered gift cards and directed customers to its halal-certified foods, reports ABC News. Several customers hailed the new interest. "Finally, a major retailer has recognized its Muslim customers," wrote one reader.

But anti-Muslim bloggers quickly ripped the posts, with one accusing "anti-Israel" Whole Foods for being "a shill for jihadist interests." Then came this internal email, obtained by the Houston Press: "It's probably best that we don't specifically 'promote' Ramadan. We should not highlight Ramadan in signage as that could be considered 'celebrating' Ramadan." Now Whole Foods is getting slammed again for "[capitulating] to a vocal minority that does not believe in the freedom to observe non-Christian religious practices in America," or so wrote a (former?) customer. A Whole Foods rep says it actually hasn't abandoned the campaign, and noted that the company has 12 operating regions, and the email came from one of them: "Every region operates autonomously. They have their own set of leadership, their own offices."

Whole Foods gets slammed by anti-Muslim bloggers after it touts Ramadan to sell food.
Whole Foods gets slammed by anti-Muslim bloggers after it touts Ramadan to sell food.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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