How Sari Roti became the most hated bread brand amongst Muslims in Indonesia

Sari Roti product being stepped on as part of the call for boycott of the bread company by some Muslims in Indonesia in December 2016. Photo: Facebook / KataKita
Sari Roti product being stepped on as part of the call for boycott of the bread company by some Muslims in Indonesia in December 2016. Photo: Facebook / KataKita

Recently, you may have seen calls to boycott bread producers Sari Roti, which is one of the most popular bread brands in Indonesian supermarkets and whose jingle you probably hear at least once a day in your neighborhood, being blasted by their ubiquitous mobile hawkers.

But the bread company has earned the hatred of many Muslims in Indonesia recently (and it’s not because of those incessant jingles). Some people have such a deep animosity towards Sari Roti that they have been taking photos of themselves stepping on their bread to post on social media:

Why such hatred for an inanimate object?

Well, this all began with the December 2 mass protest against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for his alleged blasphemy against Islam. On that day, Sari Roti won praise from many Muslims in Indonesia after its street hawkers gave out free bread to the protesters.

But soon after those images went viral, PT Nippon Indosari Corpindo, the producers of Sari Roti, released a public statement denying that giving out free bread was company policy. In a bid to distance themselves from any political overtones attached to the 212 protest, Sari Roti explained that a customer had bought their bread and ordered their hawkers to give them out to protesters for free.

Sari Roti’s statement did not go over well with many Muslim netizens, who launched a campaign to boycott the company, popularizing hashtags like #BoikotSariRoti on Twitter. PT Nippon Indosari Corpindo’s stock also took a tumble as a result of the campaign, but managed to correct itself today.

The fact that PT Nippon Indosari Corpindo’s founder and CEO Wendy Sui Cheng is an Indonesian of Chinese descent also came under scrutiny by boycotters, many of whom took to social media to suggest alternative bread brands made by Muslim producers.

It’s pretty worrying that even bread can become a divisive issue in light of the religious tensions that Indonesia is currently experiencing. At least we’re not the only ones to see the ridiculousness in this Sari Roti controversy.

I’m confused as to how Sari Roti was perceived as insulting Islam. I hope [the boycotters’] eyes and hearts will be opened so that they realize that the food they stepped on and discarded are the result of the work of their brothers and sisters so that they can afford to eat.

Sometimes hatred can overcome human’s capacity for thought that they can’t think clearly anymore.

RIP conscience.

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