August 9th, 2011
08:58 PM ET

Whole Foods denies canceling Ramadan promotion

By Alan Duke, CNN

(CNN) - Whole Foods and a company that produces traditional Muslim foods disputed online reports Tuesday that the grocery chain has bowed to right-wing pressure and canceled its Ramadan promotion.

"Whole Foods Market is not cancelling our current halal promotion, which is centered around the time frame of Ramadan," company spokeswoman Libba Letton told CNN Tuesday.

The controversy centered around "halal-certified products" produced by Saffron Roads.

"It's more of a tempest in a teapot," Saffron Roads CEO Adnan Durrani said Tuesday.

The tempest was fueled by a blog published by Houston Press, which quoted an e-mail sent by a Whole Foods manager to some store workers.

The e-mail said "It is probably best that we don't specifically call out or 'promote' Ramadan," according to the blog. "We should not highlight Ramadan in signage in our stores as that could be considered 'Celebrating or promoting' Ramadan."

The e-mail suggested the Ramadan promotion "has generated some negative feedback from a small segment of vocal and angry consumers and bloggers."

Whole Foods "never sent a communication from our headquarters requesting stores take down signs at all," the company spokeswoman said. "We have 12 different operating regions and one region reacted by sending out directions to promote halal and not specifically Ramadan after some online negative comments."

Durrani blamed the e-mail on "just one outlying, regional person who had no authority to speak."

The blog was "charged with lightning" and quickly went viral on Twitter and Facebook, he said.

"The bloggers like to blog," Durrani said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Food • Ramadan

soundoff (324 Responses)
  1. Faith

    The discovery/adventure era is over. The US government should stop all the fussing over local issues and work for the recovery of the planet if they've got any conscience and intelligence, maintaining the mightiest military at the same time.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • pfeffernusse

      And this has...what to do with the article?

      August 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  2. Lost

    Would any of these foul and bigoted comments be made if the subject matter centered around other ethic groups? For instance, would pressure have caused them to pull the plug on kosher foods, or Latino brand foods? Food is food.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • David

      If there were such a thing as Evangelical Christian food, and Whole Foods was catering to that group, then yes, the same foul and bigoted comments would be made, and by the same sorts of people who claim to be tolerant and open-minded about everything else.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • edwin

      I do not understand your comment - the article says they did NOT "pull the plug" on the foods. The email merely suggested they not promote it as Ramadan-friendly, not that the stores stop carrying it.

      August 10, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • DaveinSC

      First off David, I do not have to be TOLERANT of anything, thats what liberals say when people do not see things thier way. As far as the food goes, I do not care what they sale just do not try to promote any kind of religion, in any way. We are continually told that anything representing Jesus not be tolerated or allowed, and I can promise you the Muslim religion had best not be promoted in anyway. I will not have any money I spend go to support or promote the Muslim religion in anyway.

      August 10, 2011 at 7:04 am |
    • Frogist

      LOL@DaveinSC: "I do not have to be tolerant of anything." At least you admit it! Also just curious, I don't know who is telling you that Jesus is not to be tolerated. Could you please explain that? And a hypothetical question I think is appropriate here: If you want the Jesus religion to be tolerated, why would you not tolerate another person's religion? Seems to me only logical to do so... quid pro quo, ya know?

      August 10, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  3. Faith

    Muslims need the Bibles. There is no hope for them unless they read the Bible, though they are better than secular Americans. More restrictions on the food humans may eat, it's better for the planet and for the whole creation.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:44 am |
    • pfeffernusse

      Muslims do read the Bible. They honor Jews and Christians and Jews as “people of the book” (i.e. the Bible). So, I guess there’s plenty of hope for them, huh?

      August 11, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • sakinah aziz

      @faith, muslims do read the bible and love the prophet Jesus, we just don't worship him, and theres a section in the holy Quran of prophet Jesus mother Mary, peace and blessings be upon both of them.... i guess like i say it again agnorance will kill the brain. you would know this if YOU read the Quran.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:12 am |
  4. seriously?

    Aren't Muslims supposed to be fasting during Ramadan? Maybe Whole Foods is doing thing a favor by not tempting them with specials.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:40 am |
    • Ben

      During Ramadan, they only avoid eating while the sun is up.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Muneef

      From Sun Raise to Sun Set

      August 10, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  5. OregonTom

    This is The United States of America. Advertise your products or special promotions. We are capitalists still right? Halal for a dollar, yarrrr

    August 10, 2011 at 1:34 am |
  6. Terry Brookman

    I do not like politicians or organized religion, scratch off the thin veneer and all you see is a greedy SOB that shouts BS and expects everyone to pay them for it or they will kill you.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  7. Muneef

    And some call others as liars when they have not the slightest knowledge of what they are talking about....!!?

    August 10, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  8. awhs2983

    Religion = the single most destructive force on the face of the earth. The illusion of a force greater than that of any human being with an agenda all their own.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:23 am |
  9. Paul Defigeiredo

    The myth about islam and india- Islam did wipe out millions of hindus. You forget that "india" at that time included afghanistan, pakistan, bangladesh etc. muslims love to say that india is still 80% hindu, however, if you take in to account the entire population of the land that was initially inhabited by hindus, the current percentage is closer to 40-50%. Where did the rest go? Millions were slaughthered. Some converted due to convience- trading etc. however most converted due to the jizya tax system and other mughal opressive policies.

    August 10, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • Muneef

      And how many were killed by "Alexander the Great" or that does not count only Muslims in India counts?

      August 10, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  10. Moe NY

    Reading most of these comments make me believe in my theory of religion...they all suck. Sick, each and every one of them. Ah, bet I get bible thumped...oh well!

    August 10, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • Thumper


      August 10, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • Acroyear

      Well, the bible is usually heavy enough to thump somebody with...which is the only real use it has...other than a handy door stop perhaps.

      August 10, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  11. Moe NY

    Personally, do not care about any religious BS. Religion should take a back seat to politics...remember separation of religion and state? I do...and I like it that way.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • mickey1313

      2 things, 1, due to this special, I will never again shop at whole foods, and I do about 25% of my shoping there now. 2, muslems are hypocrites, do muslem athleats not drink water during the day this month? I bet they do.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • Kay

      Sorry, mickey1313 – but they don't drink water as part of the fast. Why are you so mean?

      August 10, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • Jack Chambers

      @mickey1313 Did you know that Hakeem Olajuwon won NBA player of the month during Ramadan. He didn't eat or drink during daylight hours in Ramadan and he accomplished this task in the NBA. So No MUSLIMS are not hypocrites.

      2nd of all if sport is your way to earning a living then I believe it is permissible for you not to fast when you are playing and you can make those days up when you are not playing.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • Ken

      Jack's right . . . you are not required to fast if doing so would harm your health or prevent you from earning a living. If you don't fast, you're expected to be more charitable during Ramadan to make up for it.

      And Mickey . . . you're an idiot. You just made up some imaginary rules and then called Muslims hypocrites for breaking them. Making things up is also known as "lying," sometimes called "bearing false witness." Doing it violates one of the 10 Commandments, also known as "breaking God's laws." You're an idiot, and if you call yourself a Christian, then you're violating your own rules. Also known as hypocrisy.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  12. Frank

    I believe the "correct" term for Ramadan would be "Summer Holidays".

    August 10, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  13. wondering

    It's a unfortunate thing that ALL the HATERS on this forum can't be arrested for hate crimes. It would sure reduce the size of this page.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Moe NY

      Who do you consider haters? Why do you want people who speak out to be arrested for a hate crime? Just wondering?

      August 10, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  14. Adam

    The muslims ruled a vast majority of the world for 1100 years.. funny but I still see christians and jews and hindus in countries that were ruled by muslims for centuries. I guess the muslims forgot to annihilate the hundreds of millions of hindus of india or the hundreds of thousands of christians in Iraq and Egypt and other arab nations. Or maybe they even forgot to take out all the jews in Iran and Jerusalem.

    You see if we as muslims had exterminated all the jews when we had them under our shariah rule.. then the people of palestine would not be going thru what they're suffering. Their suffering and the suffering of thousands of slaughtered muslims in india attest to the fact that we as muslims did not annihilate anyone based on their religions.

    Nor will any muslim do so even to this day. Because we believe indeed that we have a higher authority to answer to for our injustices which is why we must control our desire for revenge with utmost care and remembrance of our Creator.

    If the sale of alcohol and pork is banned in muslims countries.. then this is a good thing not a bad thing. If anyone disagress with this statement not on a religious or a self serving point of view.. then just go online and look up the many different diseases that the pork carries in its blood stream.. books written by non muslim doctors on the detriment of eating pork. And these same people can go online and look at the number of deaths caused by drunk driving, number of murders caused by people intoxicated and the number of children and wives beaten by their father and spouses while intoxicated and then of course the number of people that die from diseases related to these intoxicants. If this is the best you can find on what they don't allow in muslim countries then perhaps other people should follow their example.

    The only people that benefit when laws are made by men is men. God's laws are not designed to please any one single human being or one single human race. God is just and only loves justice. For all those that believe in God from any race know that there is no replacement of human laws to God's laws that can ever be nor have ever been successful.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Aristocles

      Liar. Islamic countries never ruled "a majority" of the world; only the Europeans did that, during the age of colonialism. The Islamic countries ruled the Arabian peninsula, Iran, Turkey, North Africa, Turkey, for a time, Spain, and they sorta controlled most of India for a time, despite the subcontinent being overwhelmingly Hindu. By Contrast, the UK alone used to rule at least as much of Africa as Islamic countries ever did (Egypt, Sudan, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, etc), ALL of India (plus today's Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, effective rule over a large part of Southern China, control of Oman, Jordan, Iraq, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, much of Somalia, as well as the USA for a time, plus Jamaica, Ireland, Gibraltar, Cyprus, and probably quite a few other places I missed.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Mr. Ferguson

      Islamic governments and caliphates did indeed rule a huge portion of the world at one time, and may again. That said, welcome to the club of old religions who attempted, and still attempt, to maintain power, and yet find their ambitions crushed by the march of social changes. Someday Mecca will be like the Vatican, open to all and selling trinkets with Muhammad's face for a small price. It is inevitable.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • Muneef

      Pity that the country who used to rule the world in the past today she can not rule her self...or change her diaper alone...and that is catching because many now on the way down paving a way for the raise of a new empire to come..as the one's before it came and gone....!!

      August 10, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • mattmchugh

      Muslims ruled a majority of the world? Europeans ruled a majority of the world? Both you fellas need too look at a map sometime, let alone get a sense of the difference between extended influence, colonization, and centralized control.

      Anyway, if any given empire could be justifiably said to have "ruled a majority of the world" by land mass or population for a significant stretch of centuries, it's the Chinese. Nobody else comes close.

      - mm

      August 10, 2011 at 12:58 am |
    • Utopia0610

      Well Muslims did rule large portion of world but not whole world. In india when arab invaders invaded india they tried to destroy six thoudand years old hindu religion and culture , they taxed hindus for being hindu and destroyed temples and built mosque on top of it. It was a brutal time to hindus in indian subcontinent. I think it was blessing when British occupied india otherwise whole of india would have been forcefully converted to Muslim.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • CNN Reader

      To ADAM,
      so if you are saying that God's laws are not designed to please any one single human being or one single human race.

      then, WHY are Christians persecuted in Muslim countries? Will the law in Saudi Arabia allow a Christian church or worship center to be built or Christmas to be advertised and celebrated? Why can't women drive in these countries either?

      Your statements are very contradictory. Muslims smoke and this hurts bodies – so your stmt re: pork/alcohol is very selective.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:27 am |
    • montyross

      yes that higher calling is to believe GODS son JESUS the one that came before muhamed and before buhda and before moses...

      August 10, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • Rinsewind

      Uh, no. Jesus was born before Muhammad, but well after Moses and the Buddha. Of the five major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism), Christianity is the second youngest.

      August 10, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  15. jordan

    Let--SO CALLED ISLAMIC COUNTRIES--promote anything regarding christmas--They never will .

    August 10, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • JustCurious

      Jordan – I suggest that you visit Turkey during Christmas and let's talk again.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • Sam

      Or visit almost any other country.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • BG

      Well, I guess if you count burning down churches as "promoting" Christmas.... sure.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • Muneef


      Isn't Christmas is the birth date of "Jesus"...? Aren't we Muslims belief in "Jesus" and consider higher of him as the Quran thought us...? Aren't we celebrating the birth date of "Muhammed"...?
      So it means we celebrate both birth dates but the difference here that we celebrate both by gathering and saying praises,graces and so on for those nights...which we think is fine enough...although different than your Christmass of drinking and dancing celebrations...!!

      August 11, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  16. Huh?

    Uh... hate to tell you, but Islam was the first religion that made provision for members of other religions to freely practice their faiths. As a result of which , Christian and Jewish communities have thrived in countries like Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Iraq for centuries.... whereas holding the 'wrong' version of Christianity resulted in people being burned at the stake in Europe, and allowing people to practice another religion wouldn't have been tolerated.

    Want violent and intolerant? Take a look at portions of the Old Testament, which promote genocide.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Mr. Ferguson

      This is all true. Islam has been used cynically (a religion used to get power? NO!) at many times in its history to justify empire, murder, even genocide. Many, many religions have. The world owes a debt to the many Muslim artists, scientists, architects, physicians and philosophers over the ages, but what the world sees now is fundamentalism and nationalism, and the strife it has created. This, too, shall pass.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • paganguy

      You are correct. New research shows that the "Old Testament" was written about 300 BC and was a total fabrication to separate the house of David from the arabs. (They are all semitic people streaming out of present day Kuwait). Moses and the Egyptian story is just that: a story. My comments would be similar to all religions. I will never forgive the Catholics for the Crusades and the for murder of hundreds od thousands of people in the name of Jesus.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • BG

      " I will never forgive the Catholics for the Crusades and the for murder of hundreds od [sic] thousands of people in the name of Jesus."

      Boy, that's a tough grudge to carry around. The Crusades? Really? I'd hate to know what else písses you off. Warm beer?

      August 10, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • montyross

      after the first christians were killed by the roman rulers and rome converted to christ, the jews were allowed to worship freely, islam had not yet been born.....

      August 10, 2011 at 2:05 am |
  17. Muneef

    Ramadan & Christmas are Seasons for increased sales to shop owners...and by advertising or marketing your products you intend only to make the most of this Seasonal Markets...but that does not mean you are promoting the religion rather than promoting your products and services during those occasions....!!!
    And I thought every body in the US is highly educated....silly me...!!!

    August 10, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • changomango

      Funny, Christmas isn't celebrated in most Muslim countries under penalty of DEATH.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Muneef

      That only proves your ignorance of Arab Islamic countries...we of all faiths live together and each celebrate his festivals or we celebrate it jointly....when politics does not spoil our close relations...

      August 10, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • Halal_Murphy

      Republican only hate math, science. Oh, and Islam. What educatation are you talking about? "No Child Left Behind?"

      August 10, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • Muneef

      About market seasonal sales promotions that are now translated as if rather promoting religion and not seasonal marketing sales...!

      August 10, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • goodtimes

      Celebrating christmas in any muslim country is not punishable by death. The three countries I've been to, Egypt, Jordan and UAE have christmas promotions in the malls. Stop making up things. And don't use saudi arabia as an example. It is a dictatorial monarchy that uses religion to keep the royal family in place. All muslims including saudis know that many of their extreme laws like forbidding women from driving have nothing to do with Islam and more with oppressing their population. This has happened in theocracies all over the world and all over history.

      If I owned a grocery store, I would have christmas promotions, ramadan promotions and promotions for any other seasonal event. That's how you make more money.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Muneef


      Thank you for educating those "Nut Shells" which seem never in their life have left out side their neighborhood blocks if not the building or bed...!!? You were true in every word you wrote...after all thank GOD you are not all the same...!!

      August 11, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • pfeffernusse

      Muneef, there you go, being all logical and stuff.

      I don’t think changomango is big on facts. He only knows what Glen and Rush tell him.

      August 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  18. changomango

    Try selling or just claim to sell pork or alcohol in ANY Muslim country, see how many people get killed.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • JustCurious

      ChangoMango – where did you get your info from? Glenn Beck I'm sure – who has never been in any of this countries either.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Sam

      Okay, first of all that is a horrible comparison. Alcohol and pork is something prohibited to Muslims, but halal food is not prohibited to Christians. So, the selling of halal products doesn't only serve the Muslim population. And some Muslim countries do in fact sell alcohol. You're logic makes for a horrible argument my friend.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • Claudia R.

      Hmmmm....I drank at bars all over Turkey last summer (with many Turks) and discovered a new favorite beer, Efes, made by a Turkish brewer. Trip was so much fun. Did not get killed.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:27 am |
    • BG

      Psst.. Ahmed – check the infidel woman at the end of the bar... Here, give her the special "house" brew. Tell her it's warm because it's.. uh.. fresh. Yeah, that's it. And for Allah's sake, zip up your fly.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:51 am |
    • goodtimes

      Fact: Pork and alcohol are sold in most muslim countries.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Kurt

      I just got back from Morocco. That particular Muslim country produces some decent wines and at least two surprisingly good beers (brewed in Casablanca).

      I had a few over the two weeks I was there. I wasn't threatened with death once.

      August 10, 2011 at 2:22 am |
  19. My little Pony

    I agree with cheepmeat!

    August 10, 2011 at 12:17 am |
  20. My little Pony

    How do we know that?

    August 10, 2011 at 12:09 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.