Many Muslims no longer want to drink Coke, since it’s a U.S. product, so Tawfik Mathlouthi invented Mecca Cola, with the slogan, “No more drinking stupid, drink with commitment.” He says the drink fights “America’s imperialism and Zionism by providing a substitute for American goods and increasing the blockade of countries boycotting American goods.”

10% of the profits go to charities operating in Palestinian territories. When asked how the company makes sure the money doesn?t end up in the hands of terrorists, Mathlouthi says, “We give help by providing clothes and goods, or by paying the costs of the construction of schools there.”

Consumers in the Middle East are boycotting many U.S. products. Exports to Saudi Arabia declined by more than 40% in the first three months of 2002. Coca-Cola admits it has “felt some impact of such boycotts.” This isn’t the first Muslim cola?there is also Zamzam Cola, made in Iran.

However, Mecca Cola isn’t yet sold in any Middle Eastern country. It was launched in France and is exported to Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain. Next week, it will be available in Sweden and Denmark. It sells in what Mathlouthi describes as “small ethnic shops in Muslim areas.” It will be available in the Middle East in a month.

Coca-Cola thinks Mathlouthi isn?t patriotic, just a sharp businessman, and says he has “identified a commercial opportunity which involves the exploitation in Europe of the difficult and complex situation in the Middle East.”

For news at the edge?that you can’t find in your morning paper?check out science reporter Linda Howe every week on Dreamland.

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