Danish dairy giant Arla has been trying to placate consumers in the Middle East insulted by the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. But in trying to build bridges with Islam it has upset some consumers in Denmark.
Arla placed adverts in 25 Middle Eastern newspapers rejecting the widely held Danish view that the publication of the drawings was defensible as freedom of expression and should not be apologised for. The action was praised by a meeting of influential Islamic sholars in Bahrain. The conference decided to open talks with the company which could pave the way for an end to a boycott that Arla says is likely to cost it €53.6m in lost sales this year.
Back in Denmark, howver, some domestic consumers are outraged at what they see as an abandonment of Danish values, arguing that Arla's need to make money has been put before freedom of expression. 'Some of our consumers are furious', admitted an Arla spokesman. 'We don't often get this many consumer responses about the same issue within a few days.'