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Riyadh condemns World Cup 'Saudi beer' after Twitter backlash

Alcohol consumption is prohibited by Islamic law [Twitter]

Date of publication: 13 May, 2018

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Saudi Arabia has condemned a German brewery for producing "offensive" beer bearing the conservative kingdom's flag after a social media backlash.

Saudi Arabia has condemned a German brewery for producing "offensive" beer bearing the conservative kingdom's flag after a social media backlash.

Riyadh's embassy in Germany issued an online statement on Friday, saying it had contacted German authorities to ensure local brewery Eichbaum ceased production of the beer, which commemorated football teams taking part in this year's World Cup.

"The embassy has reached out to relevant German authorities to condemn the company's alcoholic product, which bears the Saudi flag," the statement said.

"The flag carries the word 'tawheed' (Islamic monotheism). This constitutes a violation to the holiness of the word, an insult to the flag and a provocation against the feelings of Muslims," it said, referring to the declaration of faith emblazoned on the flag.

The statement called on German authorities to withdraw the beer from the market and demanded an apology.

The brewery in the southwestern city of Mannheim had printed the flags of all the 32 World Cup national teams on its bottle caps to celebrate the upcoming football tournament.

Images of the beer went viral on Saudi social media, prompting users to harshly criticise the brewery for the move.

Alcohol consumption is prohibited by Islamic law.

Saudi Arabia, home of Islam's two holiest sites, bans the production, import, sale and consumption of booze. The blanket ban, however, has not been successful in eradicating drinking.

On Friday, the German brewery apologised in a Facebook post and said it had not intended to offend Muslims.

"The discussion on the Saudi bottle caps took on a form that overstepped the boundaries of freedom of expression… If we have unintentionally offended you, we sincerely apologise," it said.

The German embassy in Saudi Arabia similarly issued a statement on Saturday, expressing regret for the incident and promising that the beer had been removed from shelves.

Saudi Arabia has complained to FIFA in the past about the use of its flag on footballs.

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