Despite being a global corporation McDonald’s has lot to learn when it comes to cultural and religious sensitivities. Its most recent blunders relate to the African and Islamic peoples respectively. While the first one has been settled amicably McDonalds is yet to address the controversy surrounding its relationship with Muslims.
In a glaring display of bad taste McDonald’s in Norway introduced a new sandwich called “McAfrika.” The sandwich consisting of beef, tomato salad and cheese was said to be inspired from an “authentic” African recipe. It was just too much to stomach for aid organizations and other activist groups who launched protests and said that it was offensive for the fast food chain to introduce the product at a time when hundreds of thousands are facing famine in the continent.
“It’s inappropriate and distasteful to launch a hamburger called “McAfrika” when large portions of southern Africa are on the verge of starvation,” one Norwegian Church Aid spokesman told the newspaper Aftenposten. Other activists distributed “catastrophe crackers” outside McDonald’s outlets. The company quickly realized its blunder and tried to correct it by agreeing to print and distribute information about the famine in Southern Africa. It will also allow relief organizations to put collection boxes inside its restaurants where “McAfrikas” are being sold.
On the other hand McDonald’s has not been so forthcoming in arresting its growing alienation with Muslims especially Muslim Americans. As if the Middle Eastern boycott call against the chain was not enough it has angered Muslim Americans by trying to keep them out from the multi-million dollar lawsuit. McDonald’s last year agreed to pay $12 million to Hindu, vegetarian and Jewish organizations after admitting that its “100% vegetable oil” french fries were laced with beef flavoring.
Interestingly McDonald’s has agreed to pay $1 million dollars to Jewish organizations even though these same organizations discourage their followers from eating at the restaurant. In direct contrast many Muslims do eat those foods at McDonald’s, which are not against the Islamic dietary laws. As a mater of fact they have been eating french fries believing that they do not contain any ingredients that have been derived from animals that have not been slaughtered in an Islamic way or from other prohibited foods.
Muslims have nothing against Jews, Hindus or any other religious community receiving the money. They are angry because they have been unfairly left out from this settlement in which they had as much right as any other group. It seems that the McDonald’s, the great globalizer, needs a refresher course on dealing with Muslims.