Le Monde , 05/02/2003 , Patrice Claude
Behind the stunning success of Mecca Cola , the first product used for mass consumption , lurk a militant and his dream of creating an Arab television in Europe.
Muslim butcher Boulevard de la Villette, in the old Belleville, Paris, tens stores , just above the gondola halal meat. “It’s the same price as Coke .
So if we can avoid giving our flouze to Bush to go even attacking Arabs, as do , right? This is what I tell my clients anyway … ” De Belleville in Casablanca, Barbès in Tripoli , Amsterdam , Berlin , Brussels and soon in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates , Pakistan , Bangladesh in Indonesia and elsewhere , it is the same story everywhere . as said Tawfik Mathlouthi , ” they all want my Mecca Cola … ”
Three million bottles of one liter and half sold in a few months , others 16 million in order, ” between 250 million and 300 million by the end of the year,” hope the inventor. Here is the incredible story of a consumer product that did not exist last summer , which was started by one man , broke, and seems on the verge of conquering the Muslim world and beyond , since ‘ a large U.S. retailer of California has in turn order. What is this miracle?
What he has in this “syrup typhoon” that is hard ? Answer: inside the bottle , nothing. Or rather , there is the usual mix of sad sodas : carbonated water , sugar, glucose- fructose, a little caffeine , a dash of phosphoric acid and a dose of caramel poetically referred E150d . Followers of organic refrain . In fact, that seems to have discovered martingale Tawfik Mathlouthi , and unlikely new ” Lord of bubbles ” on a crowded market well , is not inside the container. It is glued on and takes in six words : ” Do not drink more silly, drink committed . ”
The genius Dad Mecca Cola is all in the advertising slogan and its variations at very subliminal political understood our grocer Belleville. “Not a penny for Bush’s wars ! ” The brew , it was understood, like Coca- Cola – a red label with large white letters could even be likened to a kind of plagiarism stamp “real thing” , he almost taste the same as the Coca -Cola or Pepsi- Cola – and less sweet – and it costs the same price as the famous American brew .
The difference between the old and the new is elsewhere. In the distribution of profits above . In Mecca , it is written on the label, and a ” Mecca Cola Foundation ” which holds one-fifth of the capital ” is guaranteed .” Word Tawfik Mathlouthi , 10 % will go to European charities , ” including that of Abbe Pierre ,” he says , and another ten percent will be reserved for charities that help Palestinian children. Who would not support consumption more “ethical” ? In a time of virulent anti-Americanism in the Muslim countries where we look every night with rage and bad conscience ” Palestinian brothers ” fight and be killed at home by the army and settlers from Israel with the apparent approval and weapons of the American boycott of products made in USA is a phenomenon on the rise . McDonald’s , Coca and others admit all decreased activity in these regions.
Then came the first ” political product of mass consumption ” for the new century . No one can say if his career will be long or short-lived , but the tsars marketing off the vertical is already a textbook case . ” Culture Pub ” , special issue of M6 is preparing a dossier on the subject. All major television channels, France and elsewhere, BBC – TV CNN course including Al -Jazeera broadcast reports on Mecca Cola , ” the first anti -imperialist Millennium product.”
We saw the good round face , rimmed glasses and beard cut by line Mr. Tawfik Mathlouthi everywhere, in news magazines like the most reputable daily newspapers: the New York Times to Stampa via Le Figaro, more Pakistani newspapers , some Saudi , major newspapers across the Gulf. And now the World . An advertising budget dream completely free. In the press, rarely resist a ” good story .”
” Everything begins in May ” remembers our man. ” Following the Jenin massacre in occupied Palestine ” more precisely . Pro-Palestinian activist ” since his childhood in Tunisia,” when Yasser Arafat’s PLO was still banned, Tawfik Mathlouthi hears the call for a boycott launched after Jenin by many committees specialized defense. He began to look for ways to engage the movement in France. Imitations of cokes , there are already three dozen worldwide .
Herself accused at the time to have a little copied his famous – and still secret – recipe on a French product of the late nineteenth century called ” the wine Mariani ,” the Atlanta firm does not know not . And does not move. The most famous of these substitutes is called ” Zamzam Cola .” It was established in 1979 in Iran to replace ” the real thing ” , declared non grata in the Islamic republic. Zamzam is the name of a famous holy spring in Mecca. And Mecca, in English, is called ” Mecca” . But do not expect .
Tawfik Mathlouthi called Zamzam in Tehran. Once , twice, ten times , ” impossible to get a head ,” he swears . “Me , all I wanted was to be their representative in France and popularize the product. ” Local agent of international firms is a job that our man , a trained lawyer and certified consultant for several large “international groups,” knows well. In the late 1990s, before taking the measure of the ” bloody nature of the Ben Ali regime ” and enter the Tunisian opposition, he had obtained from the American Society of courier , DHL International, its exclusive representation in Tunisia. It is also on trial there with one of the sons- president who blew him up , ” illegally ” .
In short, no suitable response from the Iranians , who are already coming over to provide an application that has increased tenfold since last year , including Saudi Arabia, Tawfik Mathlouthi , a French citizen in 1998 , born October 10, 1956 Kalâa Kebira Tunisia , eldest son and ” single immigrant” in a family of nine children raised by a father and teacher Imam of the mosque , decided to go alone in the adventure. He invented the term , flows on the Internet, is the composition of the product and goes in search of a producer. He soon discovers that ” the 22 French manufacturers of soda , 18 belong to Coke and Pepsi .” One of the last four independent agrees to trust him. Businessman takes time, ” right , left ” , the sum of € 22,000 . It will , he says , while his viaticum .
He filed his mark, drive 160,000 bottles and creates a site – mecca – cola.com – to popularize its product. Bingo! September 27 , Le Point wrote a small paper on the new. It’s gone. On 10 October, the manufacturer delivers the first samples . 27 , he gives the order. Ten days later, ” everything was sold .” The rest is history . Mecca Cola headquarters in Saint Denis in the Paris suburbs, now occupies 18 m2 office and 8 full-time staff . This is only the beginning . Partners were found in the Gulf and Asia, four plants are being built there to make the Mecca under license. Tawfik Mathlouthi rolled the dice , he won.
This is not his first attempt , but luck was not always the rendezvous . ” This guy has a lot of stomach , you would think a minute and he ‘s not afraid of anything, amazes his friend . The problem is that it disperses. ” In addition to its various mandates consultant ( . The Port of Marseille , Air Corsica, Al Amri International Group, etc. ) , the inventor of Mecca Cola has founded several companies in various fates : a magazine business , but sold two stations some radio associations, an international award for children, and even in 2001 , a political party – the Party of France plural , now dormant .
Great ” Chatter ” before the Lord , the man is passionate about communication. In 1995, he did not hide , he even served as an advisor to the president Omar Bongo of Gabon . However, we will say , for the fight eagerly claimed by him ” against all dictatorships and democracy … ” Narcissistic and generous, annoying and attractive, warm and calculator , the inventor of Mecca Cola appears as a cunning man , and full of contradictions . It may , in the same blink of an eye , you name Napoleon and Gandhi.
Mediterranean Radio on a small station ” beur ” he founded and directed since 1992 ( FM 88.6 MHz) with mixed success , it can agonir ” criminal and barbaric regime of Saddam Hussein ” and drive them even in Baghdad four delegations opposed the war including his ” old friend ” Professor Leon Schwarzenberg . These trips have generated a nasty rumor about possible Iraqi subsidies ? He laughed : ” If the Iraqis financed me , frankly, I would not have to run after the money as I do . ”
Tawfik Mathlouthi is a type somewhat enigmatic . He recognizes himself ” a little megalomaniac , a little pretentious maybe” . This is someone who claims to ” leave a mark on earth.” In any case , he was a destiny. “I have an unlimited ambition ,” he said. “No shopping ” , he refuses the label mercantile and swears that his approach ” is one hundred percent political .” But he admits desperately seeking money to build the great project of his life, ” a real obsession ” titled “Tele – Freedom .” It would be a new kind of Al Jazeera , flooding Europe in three languages - Arabic, French and English. Statutes already filed. In London, ” because it is impossible to do so in France , where decision makers minds are too tied to Zionism .”
Ah , Zionism ! The political ideology that created Israel in Palestine in 1948 and which still calls Ariel Sharon to occupy the greater part of the last quarter of the officers territories in principle reserved for three million Palestinians , it is the big deal , the great enemy “Mister Mecca Cola .” Broadcast on its station , every Sunday between two pubs for its caramelized bubbles, Tawfik Mathlouthi , open line and staccato phrasing , vituperation against ” the war criminal Sharon and his soldiery .”
Last year the founder of an association, the National Observatory against Racism and Anti-Semitism against Arabs and Muslims ( Onacram ) , he attacked head-on and often namely what he calls ” all abuses of power and pro-Zionist politicians in place ” in the country. This earned him some trouble. In December , Mediterranean Radio was vandalized , smashed the door and stars of David daubed on the walls. The websites of the Zionist extreme right put him in the spotlight and dying of racist insults .
For Tawfik Mathlouthi , there is no getting away from it, ” Zionism is a racist anti- Arab ideology ” that must be fought . To those who, like Yasser Arafat and the PLO accepted Israel’s existence on three-quarters of Mandate Palestine , some of which criticize his radicalism , he replies : ” We are not fighting for the same Palestine. ” He openly wishes the disappearance of what he never called as the “Zionist entity ” and its replacement by an Arab state in all of Palestine, ” it being understood that the Jews of the region could obviously stay and live there . ” The same man who proudly announces that their main political columnist ” non- Zionist Jew ” – this is Patrick Azoulay, son of the famous singer Lili Boniche – the same man who brutally cut the antenna to a listener when he feels skid anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism , sharing the fate of Israel, exactly the same position as Hamas.
An Islamist strand of the Rastignac Kebira ? Nothing puts more angry. “I am an Arab , a Muslim believer and proud of it , not enough goes to the mosque . But I am also a French , a Republican and a layman. ” Fundamentalism , ” it is the withdrawal, the opposite of me.” Last week, after Pakistan and the Gulf Tawfik Mathlouthi happened in London . It portends serious partners for ” Tele- Freedom .” To be continued ?