Saudis skewer restaurant for ‘shawarma’ teaser

Offer of free food for life to anyone naming their baby after grilled meat sandwich invites torrent of criticism

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The ad on Twitter placed on a shawarma picture- Al Marsad
Gulf News

Manama: A restaurant in Saudi Arabia is offering free food for life to anyone who names his baby son or daughter ‘Shawarma,’ the popular grilled meat or chicken sandwich.

The offer was announced by the Shawarmer restaurant, which has seven branches across the kingdom, on its Twitter account.

However, the publicity stunt has waded into controversy with Saudis pouring scorn on the offer, saying that it was “utterly ridiculous and highly degrading”.

“Giving a weird name to a baby is impacting his life negatively and making him or her feel miserable forever,” Khalid Al Sa’ad, a legal expert, told Saudi daily Okaz.

“Islam as a religion keen on the dignity of people is totally against it and the Saudi laws ban it since they insist that personal names should not include any form of denigration or insult. Naming someone Shawarma is a blatant insult that cannot be condoned in any way,” Al Sa’ad said.

Abdullah Bin Duwaihan, a Saudi citizen, said that he was shocked that some people were ready to stoop so low in order to promote their restaurants, shops or products.

“You cannot insult people under the claim of publicity,” he said, quoted by Okaz on Thursday.

“It is shockingly demeaning to ask people to name their babies after a sandwich in order to get free sandwiches for life. It is an insult not only to their intelligence and integrity, but also to their dignity as human beings.”

Faysal, another user, called for punitive action against the restaurant.

“There has to be serious action against anyone who insults, denigrates or demeans people,” he posted. “This kind of publicity is targeting people who are facing financial difficulties in the hope they are so vulnerable that they will be tempted to take up this frivolous offer, and, as such, the restaurant should be punished,” he said.

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