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Muslim name removed from Burger King ad

By HIL ANDERSON

LOS ANGELES, March 15 (UPI) -- A Muslim organization says Burger King has agreed to pull a character with a Muslim name from a radio commercial for the fast-food chain's bacon-cheddar burger.

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Islam prohibits the eating of pork products such as bacon, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said Wednesday that it was bad form for Burger King to use a character named "Rasheed" to pitch a cheeseburger topped with bacon. They also said they have received numerous complaints from American Muslims.

"It is important that any company respect the sensitivities of its customers. We commend Burger King for its quick action and thank those Muslims who contacted CAIR to express their concerns," CAIR Chairman Omar Ahmad said in a statement, adding that American Muslims are "becoming increasingly vigilant in defending the image of their faith and community."

In the commercial "Rasheed" reads a poem in a coffee shop, singing the praises of the "bacon cheddar whopper," and offers the greeting "peace" to his "brothers and sisters." CAIR said Muslims frequently address one another as "brother" or "sister," and use the Arabic greeting "peace be with you."

CAIR said it received a letter from a Burger King executive saying the name Rasheed had been designed to appeal to an African-American audience, but would be pulled to avoid "confusion."

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CAIR added that it has led campaigns against other U.S. companies, including Disney, Miller Brewing and Nike, to remove advertising or other content considered offensive to Muslims.

Miami-based Burger King has been at odds with other U.S. Muslim groups in recent months over the opening of Burger King franchises in Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

A coalition of such groups staged demonstrations in the United States last summer, urging Arab-Americans to boycott Burger King on the grounds that setting up shop in Jewish settlements amounts to aiding what Arabs see as an illegal occupation of their land.

A number of U.S. companies have refused to open outlets beyond Israel's 1967 borders.

Burger King announced last August that it would close the restaurant, but a Palestinian authority official last month said the franchise in Maale Adumim was still open and called for the nations of the Arab League to boycott the 82 Burger Kings operating in Arab countries.

The Israeli franchise owner has said Maale Adumim is on Israeli territory and not on occupied Arab lands.

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