Greene King had supplied pubs in its managed estate with decorations ahead of this summer’s World Cup, which gets under way on 14 June when hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia in Moscow.
However, hundreds of Greene King pubs won’t be flying the Saudi flag alongside those of the 31 other competing nations this summer after a complaint was made about the display of sacred Islamic words that appear on the nation’s flag in pubs given drinking alcohol is generally banned under Islam.
The text, known as the Shahada, is the Islamic statement of faith and reads: “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.”
Greene King staff have been instructed to remove Saudi flags from bunting following the complaint – which doesn’t apply to the flags of other predominantly Islamic nations competing this summer, including Iran, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, as their flags don’t contain the Shahada or sacred Islamic text.
A Greene King spokesperson commented: "To celebrate the World Cup, we have been displaying the flags of the participating nations to promote what we hope will be a great tournament for all.
"Following feedback from some customers in London about displaying the Saudi Arabia flag in a pub, we understand it was inappropriate as it contains the religiously significant Islam Shahada in Arabic and so we have removed it."