Thursday, October 20, 2016

Malaysian religious government body says that hot dogs 'must be renamed'

Food outlets selling hot dogs in Malaysia have been asked to rename their products or risk being refused halal certification. The Malaysian Islamic Development Department, a religious government body, said it adopted the ruling after complaints from Muslim tourists. Director Sirajuddin Suhaimee said the name might cause "confusion".

"In Islam, dogs are considered unclean and the name cannot be related to halal certification," he said. Malaysian halal food guidelines say "halal food and halal artificial flavour shall not be named or synonymously named after non-halal products such as ham, bak kut teh, bacon, beer, rum and others that might create confusion," local media said. Muslim-majority Malaysia practises a moderate form of Islam but conservative attitudes are on the rise.

On Monday, popular pretzel store franchise Auntie Anne's was refused halal certification unless it renamed its "Pretzel Dog". Mr Suhaimee said it was "more appropriate" to call it a "Pretzel Sausage". A representative of the US chain described it as a "minor issue" and said the firm was fine with changing the name on the menu. Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz slammed the ruling, calling it "stupid and backward".

"Hot dog is hot dog lah. Even in Malay it's called hot dog - it's been around for so many years. I'm a Muslim and I'm not offended," he said, adding that there was no reason for the religious body to take offence at the word. "It comes from the English language. Please do not make us seem stupid and backward." Malaysia often prides itself on being a moderate Muslim nation, which allows other religions freedom of worship. However, in recent years, there has been greater emphasis on Islamic codes of conduct.

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