Lidl: the backlash

Notice something wrong on these pictures? Well yeah, duh! A famous church in Santorini, Greece, was used to advertise a Greek cheese product in one of the Lidl stores (a German chain). Except, the most prominent feature of that landmark (beside the blue roof) was removed:

Lidl airbrushes Christian cross from church pictured on its Greek food range because the supermarket chain ‘does not wish to exclude any religious beliefs’

Well, guess what. You’ve done just that – excluded a religious belief. And I’m saying it as an atheist. Savor the irony.

There was indeed a huge backlash (mostly around the social networks) about this picture. Lidl even had to come up with an official apology for screwing up on this one. People were shocked, shocked I tell you! Selling Greek products while trying to remove an important part of the Greek identity from sight. People have called for boycott. And probably rightly so. Why?

Because it’s one thing to be sensitive to religious and ethnic identities, be inclusive, tolerant, etc. But it’s quite another to bend over backwards and scrap one identity for another, for the sake of pandering to a particular customer segment. This is just business, some would say. You’re free to go buy crappy food elsewhere. Sure thing, Ahmed! (HA!) And that’s exactly what people are doing here. Voting with their feet. And with their wallets. You wanted to appear super-tolerant and super-inclusive, and attract a few Muslim customers? (Hey, Lidl may claim they don’t want to offend anyone so they prefer to remove all religious symbols from their shelves, but how do you explain the fact that their German and Dutch stores have entire sections dedicated to Halal food!?) I guess you were prepared for the backlash from non-Muslim customers, then! Being inclusive through exclusion – how does that work, Ahmed?

Removing the cross from a Greek landmark is NOT an act of religious neutrality. It’s an act of cowardice. It’s removing the very identity of that landmark, the part that makes it Greek. The cross is probably 80% of the “Greekness” in that Greek landmark, like the crescent is 80% of what makes a Saudi, Saudi. And to use Photoshop to delete this, and hope no one notices? Wow. You’ve got to have balls for that much cowardice (amazing, huh?)

That’s cultural castration, sorry to say it. It’s multicultural idiotism. It’s PC schizophrenia. And no, this isn’t just about some food store, or just about a business, one of many. It’s a symptom of a much wider phenomenon. The same one forcing German mayors to look their own constituents in the face and advise them to avoid walking near certain areas of town while wearing short skirts from now on, lest they offend the refugees residing there.

I’m all for cultural inclusiveness. But this is not right. It just isn’t.

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