Fast-food chain KFC has been forced to apologise after staff at a store in the UK refused to give customers alcohol hand wipes for fear it would offend Muslims. The Leicester branch is one of 100 in the UK trialling halal chicken but staff at this store went a step further, also banning the alcohol wipes because alcohol is forbidden in Islam.
However, the Daily Mail reported that Muslim leaders described the move as “bizarre” and warned that even well-meaning decisions could be potentially harmful by creating the impression that the community was making “ridiculous” demands. “They have made a mountain out of a molehill,” Oxford Islamic Information Centre director Dr Sheik Howjat Ramzy told the Daily Mail.
He said Muslims had used alcohol for medicine and hygiene for centuries. “There is no problem as long as we don’t drink it: if it is for medicine it is no problem, if it is a perfume it is no problem and if it is for hygiene that is no problem.
“Scholars are also debating consumption [of alcohol]; some say that as long as you don’t get drunk that’s okay.” Federation of Muslim Organisations spokesman Suleman Nagdi, based in Leicester, said: “Sometimes the intention is sincere but they do need to understand the repercussions of this upon the community.
“We have all the bigots coming out and saying ‘there you go again, the Muslims are demanding something’ when it is not the case that we are demanding anything. “It is ridiculous to suggest that this is some kind of demand from the Muslim community.”
KFC apologised to customers, insisted it had not ordered the ban and said the wipes were now available at the branch. “Our alcohol-based hand wipes are approved for use in all our restaurants, including those who are part of the halal trial,” a statement carried by the Daily Mail said.
“There was a misunderstanding at the store in question, but the wipes are now being used again. “We’re sorry for the customer’s experience.”