The Jakarta Post
South Korean bakery chain Tous Les Jours has denied accusations that it supports religious bigotry after a video showing one of its stores refusing to write Christmas greetings went viral.
In the video, the bakery, believed to be located in Jakarta, put up a leaflet telling the customers that Tous Les Jours cakes should be in line with sharia principles as stipulated by the Halal Product Assurance (HPA) Law and therefore should not have Christmas greetings or holiday greetings from other faiths, including Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year.
The leaflet said it was OK for the store to write phrases that did not run counter to Islamic teachings such as “I love you” or “you are the best”.
It is not clear which article of the Halal Product Assurance (HPA) Law the letter was referring to.
Internet users have criticized the apparent refusal strongly, swarming Tous les Jours’ social media accounts to ask for an explanation.
On Friday, the company posted an official statement of its commitment to religious tolerance.
"We would like to clarify [...] that the rules on cake writing as shown in some photos and videos that have gone viral are not an official policy issued by the management," the statement said.
"In running our activities in Indonesia, we treat tolerance of ethnicity, religion, race, culture and political diversity as a priority. We apologize for the inconvenience and are grateful for the support that you have given us."
The debate over whether Muslims can say "Merry Christmas" to Christians recurs annually as Christmas approaches in Indonesia. Some Indonesian Muslims believe that wishing Christians a merry Christmas is a violation of sharia. Others do not.
In 2017, a bakery called Chocolicious issued an official statement saying it would refuse to write Christmas greetings on its cakes, triggering online debates. (gis)