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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Muslim Businessman Launches Mecca Cola

Aired June 27, 2003 - 19:28   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR: Well, Muslims in Europe, the Mideast, and Africa have a new way to express anti-American sentiment that goes one step past boycotting.
A new line of soft drink has bubbled up, challenging America's carbonated hegemony and raising the question, what would Allah drink?

The soft drink's creator thinks he's come up with an answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAWFIK MATHLOUTHI, CREATOR OF NEW COLA FOR MUSLIMS (through translator): There's no point in beating around Bush. The Muslim community is the main target for this product. Because who today is the victim of American foreign policy of Mr. Bush and his friends, of the Zionist community? Mostly the world's Muslim community.

COOPER (voice-over): The solution to this geopolitical dilemma? To some, it's a tall glass of refreshing Mecca Cola.

And exactly where in Islam's holiest city was Mecca Cola born? Well, here actually. Paris, France, where Tawfik Mathlouthi last year decided that Muslims needed an alternative to Coca-Cola, a new soda with that great cola taste but without all that bitter American-ness.

ANNA MALKAHI, FRENCH CONSUMER: It's just like Coca-Cola, but it's not American. That's what is so great about it.

COOPER: Others think it's great because it promises 10 percent of the proceeds to Palestinian causes. Not in cash, which could be used to fund terror, but in necessities, such as clothing. That's how the boys in marketing came up with the slogan "Don't drink stupid, drink committed."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I think it's a brilliant idea. Here we have a product that encourages us to consume responsibly and it's not only a brilliant idea, it's the first brilliant idea of the century and it has come from an Arab.

COOPER: Actually, Mecca Cola comes hard on the heels of Zam-Zam Cola, named for a natural spring in Mecca but only available in the Mideast. Unlike Zam-Zam, Mecca Cola wants to reach Muslims worldwide.

Stricter Muslims question the use of Mecca as a marketing gimmick. But with two million bottles sold in Europe last year, that seems to be precisely what thirsty Muslims like about it. HASSANE BRAHIM FARRIDON, MECCA-COLA IMPORTER: The main reason I chose Mecca Cola was because I'm Muslim. So the name Mecca Cola touched me deeply. So I support the brand.

COOPER: Of course, if Mecca Cola succeeds based not on the product itself but the marketing, maybe it's not as un-American as they think.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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