Bintel Blog

Confusing Queen Esther and … the Starbucks Mermaid

By Eleanor Goldberg

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Traditionally, Purim celebrants drink enough alcohol to confuse the Book of Esther’s villain, Haman, with its hero, Mordechai. But this year, two unlikely female characters were confused: Queen Esther and the mermaid depicted in the Starbucks Coffee logo.

“The girl in the Starbucks logo is Queen Esther … the queen of the Jews,” Safwat Higazi, a Muslim cleric from Egypt, recently told Al-Nas TV. “We want Starbucks to be shut down throughout the Arab and Islamic world.”

Higazi isn’t the first spiritual leader to protest the Starbucks logo, which depicts a crowned mermaid.

In early 2008, the coffee chain resurrected its original 1971 topless brown-split-tailed-mermaid log in conjunction with the introduction of its Park Place Roast blend. Though the mythical creature was more modestly dressed this time around, with her hair covering her chest, a Christian watchdog group, The Resistance, called for a boycott. It “has a naked woman on it with her legs spread like a prostitute,” according to a press release put out by the watchdog group. “It’s extremely poor taste, and the company might as well call themselves Slutbucks.”

Still, the most recent uproar against the iconic lady on Starbucks cups isn’t restricted to her provocative appearance. In January of this year, after the rapper Lowkey spoke out against Starbucks for its support of the Jewish state at an anti-Israel rally in central London, two groups gutted the Starbucks coffee shop opposite the Israeli Embassy. Over in Beirut, “one cup of coffee equals a bullet” was a slogan for anti-Starbucks demonstrators. These protests were fueled by [false rumors] (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2009/01/one-cup-of-coff.html) citing that the company intended to donate its profits from the two weeks prior to the Israeli army.

Even though the company released a statement saying “it does not support political causes anywhere in the world” and that the two-tailed mermaid based on an old 16th-century Norse woodcut serves to “capture the seafaring tradition of early coffee traders,” rumors continue to circulate.

The Facebook group, “Boycott Starbucks; they fund the illegal occupation in the Middle East” has more than 1,500 members.


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