Malaysia’s Muslim population is in the majority and although they have been known to practice a moderate form of Islam, more conservative views are on the rise. It is these changing attitudes that have led a religious body in the country to demand that all food outlets selling hot dogs find a new name for them or risk being refused halal certification.
The religious body in question, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, is actually a governmental religious body and they claim to have adopted their ruling after complaints were made by some Muslim tourists.
Giving the reason for the edict, Director Sirajuddin Suhaimee said the name, hot dogs, might cause “confusion”, stating:
“In Islam, dogs are considered unclean and the name cannot be related to halal certification.”
Halal food is food that adheres to Islamic law, as defined by the Koran. According to local media, Malaysia’s halal food guidelines read;
“halal food and halal artificial flavour shall not be named or synonymously named after non-halal products such as ham, bak kut teh, bacon, beer, rum and others that might create confusion.”
Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz, a muslim himself, does not seem to agree with the hot dogs name change ruling. He called it stupid and backward, stating:
“Hot dog is hot dog lah. 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,… It comes from the English language. Please do not make us seem stupid and backward.”
Malaysians on social media are also mocking the hot dog ruling. One of them, Eeman Yusof wrote on Facebook;
“It’s just a name, what does it have to do with whether it’s halal or not? Muslims should be more concerned with ingredients and the way food is prepared.”
The general suggestion by the governmental religious body is that the dog be replaced by ‘sausage’ to respect the Islamic guidelines on food in the country.