WASHINGTON (AFP) — US activists have called for a worldwide boycott of doughnuts-and-coffee chain Dunkin Donuts after it pulled an online ad that a conservative commentator said promoted jihad.
"Dunkin Donuts has capitulated and withdrawn an advertisement for its products following the allegation ... that the spokeswoman in the ad was wearing a kaffiyeh, a scarf which is a staple of clothing traditionally worn by Palestinian men," the ANSWER Coalition said in a statement.
ANSWER, which groups hundreds of anti-war and anti-racism organizations around the United States, called for a "worldwide boycott of Dunkin Donuts ... to send a powerful message to corporations that engage in racism or pander to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racists."
The activists also urged backers to send an online letter to Dunkin Donuts expressing outrage at the company's decision to drop the ad "based on the possible perception that it contained an Arab kaffiyeh" and calling for "an official apology for yielding to anti-Arab racists."
More than 7,300 letters had been sent to Dunkin Donuts in the 24 hours since ANSWER posted its boycott call on its website, Ben Becker, a spokesman for the coalition, told AFP.
A furore blew up earlier this month over a Dunkin Donuts online ad featuring celebrity chef Rachael Ray wearing a black-and-white scarf around her neck and holding an ice coffee.
Conservative columnist and commentator Michelle Malkin complained on her blog last week that Ray was sporting a "jihadi chic kaffiyeh" in the ad.
"I'm hoping her 'hate' couture choice was spurred more by ignorance than ideology," Malkin wrote.
In another blog post, Malkin wrote: "Anti-American fashion designers abroad and at home have mainstreamed and adapted the scarves as generic pro-Palestinian jihad or anti-war statements.
"Many folks out there remain completely oblivious to the apparel's violent symbolism and anti-Israel overtones," she wrote.
Dunkin Donuts pulled the ad last weekend, even though it said in a statement that the scarf had a paisley design -- not the checks of a kaffiyeh.
"Absolutely no symbolism was intended," Margie Myers, senior vice president of communications for Dunkin Donuts said.
"However, as of this past weekend, we are no longer using the online ad because the possibility of misperception detracted from its original intention to promote our iced coffee," she added.
Dunkin Donuts is present in 29 countries besides the United States, including Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, all of which have majority Muslim populations.
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