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Malaysia: Allow birthday greetings on halal cakes again

Malaysia: Allow birthday greetings on halal cakes again

The Islamic authority abolished the ban in the Muslim-majority country.

In Malaysia, halal-certified bakeries are now allowed to sell cakes with Christmas greetings again. The Islamic Authority on Monday lifted a three-year ban that prohibited companies from labeling products with the words “Merry Christmas” or other Christmas greetings. The ban sparked criticism in the Muslim-majority country in Southeast Asia.

Food that meets Islamic requirements is called halal. At the weekend, an internal memo from Perry’s bakery chain was shared online directing staff not to name cakes with birthday greetings. “It is strictly forbidden to write the words ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘X-Mas’ on cakes, even if the customer requests it,” the instructions stated. As justification, the bakery chain pointed to halal regulations issued by the Islamic authority.

Re-evaluating the halal certification process

“Does the saying ‘Happy Birthday’ on the cake mean that all the cakes in the store are not halal? Please respect all cultures!” one Facebook user said indignantly.

The Islamic Authority then clarified that stores with halal certificates are now no longer prohibited from writing birthday greetings on cakes and other products. Previous orders for this as of 2020 are “no longer applicable”. The authority also announced that it will “review and re-evaluate” the halal certification process.

A spokeswoman for the Perry’s bakery chain told AFP on Tuesday that the memo was “intended for internal use.” Customers can now order cakes with birthday greetings. About ten percent of Malaysia’s population are Christians. (APA/AFP)