Pro-Palestinians Muslims have refused to drop their decades-long conspiracy theory that Pepsi Cola is essentially the code name for a Zionist plot – "Pay Every Pence to Save Israel."
This columnist first heard of the theory when he was a teenager in early 1980s. "Don't buy Pepsi Cola. Buy Coca Cola," warned the always pious grocery store owner in the neighbourhood, then explaining why I should not buy Pepsi Cola. "It's a sin. Good Muslims never drink Pepsi Cola." I asked him: "So why do you sell Pepsi Cola?"
Ironically, members of the radical left, too, would hate Pepsi Cola, and for the same reason. Neighbourhood kids belonging to the "Turkish revolutionary left" looked like street campaigners for Pepsi Cola's American rival, sporting their Coca Cola bottles and arguing: "If you buy Pepsi you help the Zionists and American capitalism."
In the early 1990s when your columnist was an MSc student in Britain Arab and other (most notably a Malaysian) Muslim friends would vigorously warn him not to buy Pepsi or otherwise "you could be viewed as a Zionist and face the consequences." "What consequences?" I once asked the 'Malay Prince.' "Your guess," he answered, smiling.
Folly is a persistent thing. Even in recent years a member of Hamas, the darling of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his fellow Islamists, (Hamas member of parliament) Salem Salamah told Hamas's television station Al-Aqsa TV: "There are companies established by the colonialists and occupiers – large companies with branches all over the world, like Pepsi, Pepsi Cola. This is a well-known company. Pepsi is an acronym. P-E-P-S-I – Pay Every Pence to Save Israel. Pay every pence – pence is one-hundredth of a dollar – to save Israel. Pay every pence to save Israel..."
Egyptian cleric Hazem Abu Ismail called for a Muslim boycott of Pepsi because it stands for "Pay Every Penny Saving Israel." He explained: "They took the first letter of each word – 'Pay Every Penny Saving Israel' – and they formed the word Pepsi. When you pay [to buy Pepsi], you are saving Israel ... My little son knows more about the boycott than me. When we go shopping, he says to me: 'Buy this, don't buy that.' He knows them by heart."
I recalled all that man-made nonsense when a newspaper headline heralded that Mr Erdoğan inaugurated a $150 million Pepsi factory in western Turkey. Since Mr Erdoğan cannot be a crypto Zionist his fellow Islamist conspiracy theorists should rethink their "Pay Every Penny Saving Israel" acronym.
Did, really, the Turkish Islamists have to wait for decades to shyly ignore one of their millions of conspiracy theories? Did they have to wait so long until one of them merrily inaugurated a $$$$ plant owned by a Zionist soft drinks producer? Is drinking Pepsi halal now that Mr Erdoğan himself attended the ceremony?
Now, dear Islamists, enjoy your soft drinks and get lost.
Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from the country's most noted newspaper after 29 years, for writing in Gatestone what is taking place in Turkey. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum