A brewery is removing the Saudi Arabian flag from football World Cup bunting in hundreds of pubs because people were offended that Islamic symbols were displayed in a place serving alcohol.
People had complained to the Green King chain that it was inappropriate or blasphemous to display the Saudi flag, as it features the Shahadah, or Muslim profession of faith, which translates as: “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
The flags of other Islamic nations – including Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and Iran – will not be affected.
A Greene King spokesperson told Bristol Live: “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.”
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The Bury St Edmunds-based brewery owns 3,000 pubs, hotels, and restaurants across the country and hundreds of them have put up the bunting for the tournament.
According to Bristol Live, staff are now cutting out all the individual Saudi Arabia flags from the bunting in every single pub.
In May, German brewer Eichbaum apologised for printing the Saudi flag, along with the flags of the other 32 competing nations, on caps of its beer bottles as part of the World Cup build-up.
The company said: “We have no interest in religious or political manifestations – certainly not about our products. If we have offended you unintentionally, we apologise.”
The firm’s marketing director added: “We did not know that the characters were a creed. We only checked whether the flags of the participants are correct.”
Chris Sloggett, a campaigns and communication officer for the Nation Secular Society, commented: “It shouldn’t be normal for pubs to conform to blasphemy codes.”