Jakarta – Brouhaha surrounding the controversial policy of a Tous Les Jours store to reject requests for Christmas greetings to reportedly obtain halal certification has taken a new twist after a local Islamic council claimed it never asked the bakery to do so.
The South Korean bakery chain office in Jakarta has issued a statement asserting its commitment to religious tolerance, saying that a notice announcing the policy displayed at one of its stores in an upscale mall in South Jakarta – a picture of which has gone viral – was not an "official policy issued by the management".
The statement, however, has failed to mitigate the public relations disaster.
A staff member at the store in question, which is located in the Pacific Place shopping mall, told kompas.com shortly after the controversy ensued that the policy was part of the company's efforts to obtain halal certification.
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which is in charge of conducting the halal assessment, however, claims no companies were asked to refuse to write holiday greetings of faiths other than Islam to gain halal status.
"There is no such thing. That's excessive," said Ikhsan Abdullah, the deputy head of the MUI's legal division, said as quoted by kompas.com.
He explained that the council only assessed the ingredients of food products sold and how they were made to ensure everything was in accordance with sharia. "So that is not right. It has nothing to do with holiday greetings."
Tous Les Jours Indonesia said it was conducting an internal investigation into the incident. The outlet at Pacific Place, it said, should have secured approval from management to issue any policies.
"There has to be approval from our CEO. The CEO has to know what is going on at the store," the company's area manager, Indra Gunawan, said as quoted by kompas.com.
He reiterated that the policy was not issued by the Tous Les Jours Indonesia office, saying that the notice had neither been signed by the management nor bore the company's logo.