PERHAPS the success of current ‘solidarity with Palestine’ boycott of certain FnB (food & beverage) outlets perceived to have links with Israel has emboldened some to flex their social media muscle.
The sight of empty fast food restaurants may have made some individuals feel overly-empowered as they seek to influence Muslim consumers to boycott certain businesses.
The latest involves calls from a Facebook page carrying the moniker Berita Malaysia urging Muslim consumers not to patronise Zus Coffee outlets.
Why? The company’s moniker is apparently a reference to Greek God – Zues!
Thus it is syirik (polytheism) and Muslims should not be consuming Zus Coffee products, argued the anonymous author. It also called for JAKIM (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) to revise its conditions for granting of halal certification.
The post has generated over 20,000 likes and 24,000 shares with many netizens bearing Muslim names thanking the poster for sharing.
According to Sin Chew Daily, ZUS Coffee chief operating officer (COO) Tian Zhenhui, the portrait of the elderly man on its logo is actually an Ethiopian shepherd named Kaldi.
Tian said Kaldi is believed to be the first to discover the effects of coffee beans, according to an Ethiopian legend. The story goes that Kaldi discovered coffee after he noticed his goats became energetic after eating berries from a certain tree.
Tian went on to explain that the word “ZUS” is an abbreviation of “Zeal + US” which aims to convey the company’s zealous efforts to deliver the best coffee to its customers.
Tian further emphasised that the brand is halal-certified. “We hope that Malaysians can be proud of local brands,” he said.
Boycotting international brands with alleged Zionist links is one thing but against home-grown brands under the guise of religion is indeed a disconcerting development.
Could this be a case of industrial sabotage? Or a thinly-disguised call for Malay Muslims to shift their custom away from “kafir (infidel)-owned” businesses?
Either way, it shows the power of social media to – rightly or wrongly – influence consumer choices with disingenuous messages.
Having clarified its position, perhaps Zus Malaysia should consider legal action against Berita Malaysia for spreading disinformation about its brand. – Nov 16, 2023
Main pic credit: Main Place Mall