On 17 December 2015, multiple web sites published articles claiming that the Burger King fast food chain had “announced” they were “bowing down to Sharia law”, with one iteration offered by the America’s Freedom Fighters site headlined “BREAKING: Burger King Bows Down to SHARIA LAW … We Need To Boycott Them NOW” and asserting that:
Burger King is bowing to Allah and has decided to appease Muslims by eliminating one of the greatest foods in history. BACON! How can you have a delicious BACON CHEESEBURGER WITHOUT BACON? Well, you can’t.
That’s right folks, the fast food chain will now be able to feed terrorists without having to worry about being decapitated.
The move is part of Burger King’s attempt to compete with McDonald’s who are the biggest player in the fast food industry across France. McDonald’s has about 1,300 stores.
This is all about the almighty dollar folks. Plain and simple.
Several of the auto-tweets about this issue were appended with “BREAKING,” as if the news were very recent and extremely relevant. The Political Insider‘s take was titled “Burger King Just Announced THEY WILL FOLLOW ISLAMIC SHARIA LAW! — Stop Them!” and stated:
Burger King has caved to the pressure from Islam, and they just made an announcement that they will ONLY serve 100% halal meat, under the rules of Sharia Law.
The announcement comes from their chains in France, which is the same country that recently suffered from a deadly Islamic terrorist attack just one month ago.
This rule also means their French stores won’t serve bacon or chicken … The Islamification of the West is spreading, and they are demanding we all live by their rules!
Most iterations cited an article from the disreputable WND web site titled “Forsakin’ Bacon: Burger King Chooses Islamic Food Rules: 40 Newly Acquired Restaurants to Eliminate Pork.” The articles all eventually mentioned that what they were writing about in regards to Burger King only applied to France (and did not involve American franchises), but the rumor was spread on social media with no such distinction, and many tweets referenced Burger King in the United States.
WND cited a 15 December 2015 from the English-language French news site TheLocal.fr titled “Burger King ‘To Corner France’s Halal Market, which reported that:
US fast food giant Burger King, which has taken over the chain Quick in France, is to leave around 40 stores under the original name, which will be turned into “100 percent halal” fast food outlets, according to reports.
French competition authorities last week gave the green light for Burger King’s takeover of the 405 outlets of Quick in France … Burger King is reportedly going to keep around 40 stores under the name Quick — around ten percent of the total in France — and switch their meat so it is entirely halal, the paper reported.
This means all bacon and pork-based meals will be scrapped from the menu and all the beef and chicken used will be certified halal.
Admittedly, that reporting was slightly ambiguous: it wasn’t clear whether Burger King would operate halal-friendly Burger King locations or just fold the Quick brand into their own and maintain halal-friendly Quick locations. A less sensational take was published by food and restaurant blog Grub Street, who noted:
France’s imitation Beurger King Muslim restaurant better prepare for some stiff competition from none other than the King himself. Burger King just bought a French rival named Quick, so it can go harder in France (there are only about 30 stores right now), and the big strategy apparently involves interesting plans for a portion of Quick’s 405 outlets.
La Parisien reports that 40 of them will remain Quicks, but their menus will become “100 percent halal” to cater to France’s booming Muslim population, one of Europe’s largest.
So not only did no “announcement” about “going halal” (which was commonly and inaccurately described as “bowing down to Sharia law”) come from Burger King in the U.S., it didn’t even seem that France‘s Burger King restaurants were converting to halal-only cuisine. Burger King apparently purchased a chain called Quick and plans to keep 40 of that chain’s restaurants halal (rather than jeopardize the availability of Whoppers with bacon). Another common insinuation that Burger King (or a variety of other businesses) offered halal menus under pressure or threat from Muslims was wrong: credible reporting on such business decisions accurately describe those modifications as voluntary choices made with market share and the financial bottom line in mind. No one asked or forced Burger King to offer halal food at Quick outlets in France, but business in areas with high Muslim populations do better by providing halal options, just as many food producers choose to cater to Jewish customers with kosher offerings.
We contacted the Burger King’s U.S. media relations division for clarification on the rumors and will update this article if we receive a reply.