KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — Religious authorities’ decision to deny halal certification over the word “hot dog” is stupid and backward, said Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.
The Umno supreme council member said it was unequivocal that the word “hot dog” did not mean the food item contained dog meat, adding that there was no reason for the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) to take issue with the term now.
“Hot dog has always been known to be a western food. It comes from the English language. It is a western food. Please do not make us seem stupid and backward.
“Hot dog is hot dog la. Even in Malay it’s called hot dog. It’s been around for so many years. I’m a Muslim and I’m not offended. I’m not offended at all,” he told reporters when met outside the Parliament today.
Jakim this week confirmed that eateries must rename the “hot dog” if the item is in their menus, if order to secure halal certification.
A department spokesman said food items containing the word “dog” could confuse Muslims, as the animal is considered unclean by Islam.
Nazri today rejected the argument, saying that eating hot dogs has never endangered his faith.
“This is ridiculous. This is done by people who are ignoramuses. They are not living in the real world.
“I think I now want to eat a hot dog now,” he said with a chuckle.
When met by reporters here, PAS MP Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz said he has no issue with food operators using the term “hot dog” to describe sausage-based food products.
“The issue here should not be the name of the food. Any name is okay, as long as its contents are halal but food companies cannot intentionally use names which will confuse Muslims either,” the Pasir Mas MP said.
The issue surfaced after an executive with US pretzel chain Aunty Anne’s revealed that their application for halal certification had failed due to, among others, concerns over the “pretzel dogs” in their menu.
The incident is the latest in the growing trend of religious conservatism in Malaysia, the only country in the world that prohibits non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” and other Arabic terms.