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Muslim eateries wage cola war

Mumbai: Numerous eateries in Muslim-dominated areas of the (Mumbai) city are not serving Coca-Cola and Pepsi, universal symbols of American consumerism, to protest against the killing of innocents by the US bombings in Afghanistan. Muslim owners of 70 restaurants got together and formed an association. Their goal is to boycott US goods, not only the two colas. "Most of the restaurants have agreed to the boycott," said Shahabuddin Shaikh, owner of Shalimar Restaurant.Some restaurants have already put up notices announcing that they have decided not to sell American and British goods.

The boycott has alarmed the cola companies. Two top officials from Coca-Cola visited Shalimar Restaurant, a popular two-level, 300-seat Mughlai eatery on Mohammed Ali Road. They tried to convince the owners to restock their products. One Coke official, who refused to be identified, said the company had a staff of over 1,200 people, all Indians, in Mumbai, and he had reason to be worried by the boycott. The boycott call was initially given by a group of 24 organisations representing different Muslim interests, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Samajwadi Party, Mumbai Aman Committee, Jamat-e-Islami, All India Muslim Council and Indian Union Muslim League.Café Nizari, at Bhindi Bazaar, is another establishment not selling colas with western brand names. "We are doing so in protest against the US bombings in Afghanistan," said owner Ayub Bhai.

At Shalimar, clients are being given a choice of fruit juices, faloodas and mineral water, but no colas. Customers from the Middle East have left written notes expressing their support of the boycott. A client from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, wrote, "It is good you are doing this." An Indian customer left this note: "I am happy you are doing this. If we cannot give our lives for this, we can at least do this much." 

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