The cola jihad

By WND Staff

Editor’s note: Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin is an online, subscription intelligence news service from the creator of – a journalist who has been developing sources around the world for the last 25 years.

Mecca-Cola, distributed in recent years to Arab consumers throughout the Islamic world, in the framework of the “war against America and Zionists”, has found its way to an unlikely market – Israel.

Coke’s legacy had spurred the launch of an alternative soft drink company, Mecca-Cola, some three years ago. It was designed to cash in on anti-American sentiment around the world. Mecca-Cola was introduced in France in 2002, and is now exported throughout Europe and the Arab world.

“Arabs are entitled to enjoy brands that were made especially for them”, the company’s Israel director, said. He dismissed there was a political message behind the brand’s marketing in the Jewish state, but announced “10 percent of the profits will be distributed as donations to Palestinian children. It is intolerable that they should suffer, starve and miss school.”

And that’s just the beginning of the cola wars. There is a glut of new consumer products – mostly soft drinks – hitting the market from the Middle East.

New Islamic consumer products penetrating the North American market, mostly in the snack and fast-food sector, contain political markers and frequently subtle political insinuations.

In most cases these messages are anti-American, anti-Semitic or anti-multinationals – while at the same time cleverly promoting subliminal Islamist ideas. In essence these products, marketed with western techniques, serve as a means of condemning the very concepts used to bring them to consumers’ shelves.

Some of the products arrived in the West immediately after Sept. 11 and most during the military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One example of a mostly non-political and non-Islamist product being marketed in the U.S. is Cola-Turka. This product is marketed by using clear, well-known and valued symbols of the American culture.

Obviously, one goal is to penetrate the lucrative American market without openly criticizing the U.S. At the same time advertising techniques are used to vaguely suggest a cultural change can be achieved even when a soft drink is marketed through American promotion systems.

The beverage, launched in 2003 in Turkey, became part of the so-called cola wars waged on all five continents. In a number of publications Cola-Turka is hailed as the new kid on the block. Commercials for the cola star Chevy Chase. Filmed in New York, the ads show Americans drinking Cola-Turka becoming Turkish.

Cola-Turka arrived in the market shortly after the beginning of the 2003 pre-Iraq war Turkish-U.S. political strain. Market experts say the refusal of Turkey to allow coalition troops to operate from its territory, and later other U.S.-Turkish tension spots such as the 2004 arrest of 11 Turkish soldiers by American forces in Kurdistan, hyped anti-American sentiments and with that came an apparent attack on one of America’s symbols.

One message says: “Drink Cola-Turka and become Turkish.” Cola-Turka is steadily progressing in the beverages market, and is preparing to penetrate more. Undoubtedly the so-called Cola wars include clear signs of a cultural conflict between East and West.

An Egyptian product named Arab-Cola entered the market through use of what pollsters of Arab markets explain as: “Looking for new ways to piggyback on western terminologies to further nationalistic or religious Islamic needs.” The owners of the Egyptian product say the symbol represents “our identity.” They clarify by adding: “Our main concern is aiming to be positive and initiative elements in our context proving we can succeed on our own, proud of being Egyptian in the first place and Arabs in wider sense.”

The message of the Egyptian product is comprehensible to the public even without making too many political waves. Some observers say this wave of promoting nationalism through consumer products and changing the names of the product to become more symbolic began following the Iranian revolution of 1979. Iran is the home of Zam Zam-Cola, named after the holy spring in Mecca, a popular beverage in the Muslim world, especially among Shiites. Popularity and distribution of Zam Zam-Cola gradually weakened until the beginning of the first Palestinian Intifada in 1988. It then regained momentum during the battle over hegemony in Afghanistan, the campaigns in Chechnya, and more than any other event, the two wars in Iraq led by the U.S.

There are other new beverages such as the European-based Muslim owned Qibla-Cola. This product is now looking to expand to markets in North America and Australia, where there are extensive Muslim communities. The word Qibla defines the Muslim religious ritual of facing Mecca when praying. This on its own has a deep spiritual meaning for every faithful Muslim, and here, too, there is no need to add any words or spell out who the targeted consumer is. According to Muslim leaders in the U.K., it motivates many British Muslims to prove loyalty to their faith by preferring Qibla-Cola over the American Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola. It is important to note that Qibla is a name for one of the African terror groups that emerged during the ’80s in South Africa with a hard-core of jihadists and a long list of terror attacks. One expert on the Qibla group told G2B: “There is no link whatsoever between the beverage bottling company and the illegal organization, however, those who support the terrorists will prefer to hold a product bearing the name Qibla rather than purchasing a similar western product. There is no doubt the word Qibla is also a form of a battle cry.”

Another assessment is that campaigning violently for political-religious beliefs through canned cola drinks might seem silly to western eyes, but it is definitely a motivator and a reason for pride among Islamic youth, especially in economically weak societies where anything that can hurt America is deemed good and acceptable.

Another beverage with clear political markers is France-based Mecca-Cola. The site of this beverage, which is among the leaders of the cola wars, identifies the business as having charitable goals. Mecca-Cola claims to be anti-materialist and anti-capitalist, labeling the marketing origin of western top beverages as based on corruption. One argument is that others, namely western and American products, do not share their revenue with zakat (charity), whereas Mecca-Cola claims to be assigning 20 percent of its income to charity.

While insisting it has peaceful goals, the Mecca-Cola website leaves no doubt most of their donations go “to the Palestinian people who are experiencing indifference and general complicity, these being the most wretched and most contemptible acts of Apartheid and Zionist fascism.” This beverage, marketed and sold in North America turns any food store or cooler selling Mecca-Cola, to a political billboard aimed also at the U.S.

One battlefield of the cola wars is in Iraq. The campaign there is noticeable more in Baghdad where, Arab and Muslim brand names bitterly campaign against American bottling plants re-opened after 13 years of boycott. The fact American Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola are now available angers Muslim zealots. They are doing their utmost to harm the marketing of “infidel cola,” suggesting the buyer should prefer drinks produced and bottled in Egypt, Kuwait, Syria and Lebanon, and whenever possible purchase an explicit “Arab-Muslim drink.” One report on Pepsi distribution in Iraq suggests that in 2003 Pepsi sold 7.2 million bottles a month, indicating the figure is down more than 60 percent from its pre-war sales figures. A report from a Baghdad supermarket quotes the owner saying he is going to stop selling Iraqi-bottled Pepsi until the formation of an elected Iraqi government expected next year. This political linkage, laced with nationalist elements, is felt in many places across Iraq and the region.

A British expert on terrorism funding told G2B militants are showing greater interest in marketing Islamic products resembling popular international goods. He said the main reason for this phenomenon is the successful U.S.-led campaign against terror funding through relatively easily traced zakat charities and traditional banking systems.

“In the business of selling Muslim chewing gum or Muslim chocolate it is easy to hide cash flow which goes from the cash register to zakat and in most cases even by-passing the till,” said the expert. Terror watchers in the western world are aware of attempts to manufacture and market a variety of products to western countries, predominantly in Europe, the U.S. Canada and Australia.

Businessmen with roots in the Middle East are researching the required standards of the FDA and similar agencies for the manufacturing of snacks. A source in Los Angeles told G2B some activists interested in supporting the global jihad are on their way to produce canned soups carrying a religious title with clear preference to al-Quds, (the Arab name of Jerusalem), Mecca and names of Muslim heroes like Saladin and even bin Laden, not by using the full and legal name of the master terrorist but rather related nicknames or abbreviations such as O.B.L. for Osama bin Laden.

Another way is naming a product Muslim-Up to resemble 7-Up without specifying the brand name. One manufacturer of Islamic Cola in France told journalists he is working on the idea to compete with Kentucky Fried Chicken, KFC, by opening a Halal fast-food outlet such as Halal Fried Chicken or H.F.C. Halal is a dietary Muslim concept similar to the Jewish kosher food dietary rules. An Italian Muslim entrepreneur is planning a Muslim pizza with titles such as Mecca-Pizza to imitate Boston-Pizza or al-Buraq-Pizza delivery named after Muhammad’s white horse which he rode on his ascension to heaven from Jerusalem.

The phenomenon of Muslim or jihadi products is anchored in the Arab boycott of western, American and Israeli products. The boycott is now entering a new phase of combating American symbols by introducing Muslim symbols in look-a-like products. These are sold worldwide and in the last few years have begun to compete with American symbols in America itself. Intelligence analysis of the phenomena suggests the need to examine the labeling and advertising of each product suspected of sharing profits with terrorism. An Israeli analyst told G2B Arab and Muslim countries systematically inspect each and every product they import to guarantee there is no connection to Israel.

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