The government of Malaysia has decreed that no food items contain the word “dog” in them, as dogs are forbidden as both food and pets under Islamic sharia law.
Malaysian officials in the Department of Islamic Development explained this week that they deemed the law necessary after multiple complaints from Muslim tourists who encountered halal hot dogs and similar items, such as corn dogs and pretzel dogs, and assumed that the meat used in them was dog meat. Dog meat is haram in sharia law and cannot be made halal through prayer, like goat or chicken meat. Dogs are generally considered unclean and cannot be kept as pets, either.
The Quran is much more favorable to cats, which have appeared in a number of pieces of radical Islamic propaganda.
“Any (halal) products that make consumers confused, we have to change,” Sirajuddin Suhaimee, a Department of Islamic Development official, explained.
Malaysian members of Parliament are also defending the move after protests by those who assert that a reasonable person would not expect the franks used in hot dogs to be made of dog meat. “The issue here should not be the name of the food. Any name is okay, as long as its contents are halal but food companies cannot intentionally use names that confuse Muslims either,” legislator Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz explained.
Nik Abduh explained that he did not believe “hot dog” should be banned, but related terms like “pretzel dog” should. “Everybody knows what a hot dog is,” he added. “But, the company [Auntie Anne’s] should refer back to Jakim as to why ‘pretzel dog’ is not allowed. I think I will drop by Auntie Anne’s later to grab a bite.”
The company Auntie Anne’s has described the situation as a “minor issue.”
Malaysian officials have increasingly cracked down on interactions with dogs as the nation’s population has demanded stricter adherence to Islamic law. In 2014, officials shut down a dog-petting event intended to make Muslims more comfortable with dogs as pets. The event organizer received death threats.
A year later, a teen girl became the target of public outrage after a photo of her wearing a hijab and petting a dog was used to advertise an animal adoption event. An Islamic organization, Badan Bertindak Jaringan Muslimin Pulau Pinang (JMPP), demanded the girl be prosecuted for having pet the dog.
Malaysia’s Muslims have also grown increasingly suspicious of foreign food companies attempting to sell non-halal food. Malaysian Muslims united to boycott the British company Cadbury in 2014 after a report suggested that the corporation used pork products in its signature chocolate eggs. “They stuffed pigs into our mouths, then apologized,” Azwanddin Hamzah, the head of an Islamic group calling for the Cadbury boycott, said at the time.