Did Tesco and the Media Deliberately Stir up Tensions Over Muslims Celebrating Christmas?

Published November 14th, 2017 - 03:26 GMT
Has Tesco exploited Islam for sales this Christmas? (Tesco)
Has Tesco exploited Islam for sales this Christmas? (Tesco)

by Rosie Alfatlawi

Has Tesco exploited Islam for sales this Christmas?

The supermarket has been all over the news and social media in the U.K. after it included hijab-wearing Muslim women in its seasonal advert.

As some have vowed to boycott the store and others have promised to shop there more, has the real issue with the clip gone over most people’s heads?

A Tesco spokesperson may have said of the video that “we’re proud to celebrate the many ways our customers come together over the festive season.”

But in the end, Tesco is a business not an NGO and the commercial is exactly that - a commercial exercise aimed at boosting sales.  

Tesco executives must be positively dancing for joy over the controversy their ad has provoked. “All publicity is good publicity,” after all, and the more people talk about their brand, the better.

Meanwhile, many online have claimed that the media is guilty of creating an issue out of nothing.

At a time when Islamophobia is on the rise and the thorny Brexit question continues to split the U.K., it pays for both supermarkets and newspapers to exploit the liberal-conservative divide.

“Hijabis are the new blondes,” Professor Jonathan A.J. Wilson writing in The Drum described, “exotic individuals that tick the diversity box [and] make your content go viral.”

In reality, for any British Muslim or anyone who has spent time with the Muslim community, there is nothing novel about some of them joining in a largely secularized and commercialized festival.


Instead of including a two-second flash of a hijab in a Christmas advert, some have suggested it would be better instead to ask Muslims what better representation would mean to them.

“Why not give each religious festival its place and showcase that community?” Asked Wilson, a Muslim.

“If the Muslims in the Tesco advert had been shown hospitality by the non-Muslims, instead of celebrating amongst themselves, then this would have avoided many of the negative comments,” he added.

On Facebook, one commenter also wondered when a British supermarket might dedicate an Eid advert.

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