(Daily Forty-Niner) (U-WIRE) LONG BEACH, Calif. — Coca-Cola is America. McDonald’s is America. Kentucky Fried Chicken, Marlboro, Pampers, all America; at least, that is how much of the world sees us. If you do not feel that these companies represent the person that you are, than the stereotypes that much of the world has assigned for you, as an American, should concern you.
These stereotypes make no distinction between black, white, rich or poor — we are all Americans, therefore we are all obese (a result of Big Mac binges, no doubt), block-headed, prone to stereotyping others, money-hungry, the list goes on and on.
A couple of Muslim companies are attempting to cash in on the growing anti-American sentiment among Muslim populations around the world. Most recently, Qibla Cola is emerging in Britain as the moral alternative to Coca-Cola. Founded by businesswoman Zahid Parreen to offer “a real alternative for people concerned about the practices of some major Western multinationals who support causes that oppress Muslims.”
This trend was initiated in France when Tawfik Mathlouthi launched Mecca Cola to “create a competing product to Coke that would satisfy the needs of Arab speakers in Europe and elsewhere for soft drinks, while providing jobs and economic growth.”
Both of these infant corporations resemble Coke in ways that verge on infringement. Both Qibla and Mecca come in bottles with a red background, white lettering and that familiar white swoosh that runs across the label. Both are in the money making business. But there is one vital difference between the Muslim brands and Coke: Coke is entirely concerned with increasing capital, while Qibla and Mecca donate generous percentages of their profits to charities.
Mecca donates 10 percent of the profit made from every bottle sold to a Palestinian children’s fund and a further 10 percent goes to a local charity. Qibla also donates money to Muslim charities.
The emergence of these colas represents a culture that is trying to lessen the power and control of American based multi-national corporations, or, in other words, they want to stop contributing to violence against their own people.
Coke is seen as representative of American capitalism which supports the exploitation of Muslims through our government’s support of Israel. Mecca and Qibla Colas have
accomplished the unthinkable — they have successfully provided the world with an alternative to the all-powerful Coca-Cola or Pepsi drink.
Coke admits that the Arab boycott of its product has hurt business. But it can not be too deeply wounded, Coca-Cola still sells more than 40 million 8-ounce servings every hour around the world.
But in this world it is becoming more the small local victories that are unifying and encouraging people. More people should take an active interest in who and what they are supporting with their money — whether it is the cola they drink or the Nike shoes they wear.
The stereotypes we all have been plagued with are unfair. We are being judged based on the actions of an elite group of people without consideration for the fact that not all of us agree with U.S. foreign policy. We are accused of being stereotypical when that generalization, by its very nature, is stereotyping an entire nation.
Fair or not, we must live with it, for now. Perhaps if we began to pay more attention to where our money goes, we could get a fairer trial than what we have been experiencing in the international court of public opinion.