Thursday, February 16, 2006
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
Iranians love Danish pastries, but when they look for the flaky dessert at the bakery they now have to ask for "Roses of the Prophet Muhammad."
Bakeries across the capital were covering up their ads for Danish pastries Thursday after the confectioners' union ordered the name change in retaliation for caricatures of the Muslim prophet published in a Danish newspaper.
"Given the insults by Danish newspapers against the prophet, as of now the name of Danish pastries will give way to 'Rose of Muhammad' pastries," the union said in its order.
"This is a punishment for those who started misusing freedom of expression to insult the sanctities of Islam," said Ahmad Mahmoudi, a cake shop owner in northern Tehran.
One of Tehran's most popular bakeries, "Danish Pastries," covered up the word "Danish" on its sign with a black banner emblazoned "Oh Hussein," a reference to a martyred saint of Shiite Islam. The banner is a traditional sign of mourning.
The shop owner declined to comment Thursday.
In Zartosht Street in central Tehran, cake shop owner Mahdi Pedari didn't cover up the word "Danish pastries" on his menu, but put the new name next to it.
"I did so just to inform my customers that Rose of Muhammad is the new name for Danish pastries," he said.
Some customers took immediately to the new name. But others were less enthusiastic about the protest.
"I just want the sweet pastries. I have nothing to do with the name," homemaker Zohreh Masoumi told the sales clerk taking her order.
The drawings, which have offended many Muslims, were published in a Danish newspaper in September and then reprinted in European and American newspapers. One depicted the prophet with a turban shaped like a bomb with a burning fuse.
Islam widely holds that representations of Muhammad are banned for fear they could lead to idolatry. At least 19 people have been killed in protests over the past several weeks, most of them in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Consumer boycotts of Danish goods, from Havarti cheese to Lego, are costing Denmark's companies millions in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Muslim countries.
Iranians love sweets, often bringing candies and pastries to parties. So-called "Danish pastries" are extremely popular.
The Danish's distinctive dough was first created in the 17th century by a French apprentice baker who forgot to add butter to the flour and tried to hide his mistake by folding lumps of it into the dough. It became known as "a thousand leaves" in France.
It was copied in Italy — where it is known as "folded pastry" — and Italian bakers took it to Austria. It journeyed from there to Denmark when Danish bakers went on strike and replacements imported from Austria brought along what became known in Denmark as "Viennese Bread."
The pastry became the Danish to the rest of the world, probably, according to the Danish bakers' union, because Danish bakers emigrated to so many countries.
In Iran, the pastries are domestically baked, not imported. Iran has cut all commercial ties with Denmark in retaliation for the prophet cartoons.
Iran's Danish renaming wasn't the first time a food name has become a symbol of protest. A Republican congressman from North Carolina helped lead an effort to make sure Capitol Hill cafeterias changed their menus to advertise "freedom fries" instead of french fries after France opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.