“The spokesman said the policy applied throughout its 700-plus stores and to other religions as well. For example, Christians who did not want to work on Sundays and religious Jews who chose not to work on Saturdays would also be excused.” That is not at all the same thing. Different groups getting different days off is a private matter; it doesn’t affect the public face of the company. A checkout line (or more than one) that people have to avoid because they have alcohol or pork is part of the public face of the company: an official and public acknowledgment that it is bowing to Islamic law.
Marks & Spencer was today facing a boycott from hundreds of customers furious at the store’s decision to allow Muslim staff to refuse to serve customers buying alcohol or pork products.
The policy was revealed after customers trying to buy goods pork or alcohol from a Muslim shop assistant in central London were told they”d have to use another till because of her religion.
The official M&S Facebook page was today deluged with vitriolic messages from previously loyal customers.
Meanwhile a Facebook campaign group calling on people to boycott the store attracted hundreds of “˜likes” within just a couple of hours of being set up this afternoon.
Writing on the group’s Facebook page, called Boycott Marks and Spencer, customer Matt Syson accused M&S of creating “division and hatred within our communities”.
He wrote: “M&S if you read this you have gone over the top.
“If you have Christian workers who wish to refuse the sale of ladies garments to male homosexuals or men’s trousers to lesbians, I do hope you will equally stand by those workers” religious or personal beliefs”¦
“Or perhaps if an atheist worker notices a customer purchasing hot cross buns during Easter and wishes to refuse sale to that particular customer based on beliefs that conflict with their own, I do hope you will not punish such workers for their actions surrounding refusal of sale”¦
“If not then I would like you to know that my family and I shall no longer purchase any goods from your company due to the implementation of this ‘one rule system’ that creates further division and hatred within our communities.
“It’s the customers who pay your wage and profits, it’s the customers who wield the power and dictate success or failure within a company. Something you will soon realise when word spreads.”
And another customer Angela Phillips posted: “If M&S go ahead with this they are going to lose so many loyal customers”¦ if they do not want to serve people with pork or alcohol they shouldn’t work in the food hall”¦ simple!”
Meanwhile, Heather Playdon posted on M&S’s official Facebook page: “I shan’t be shopping in M&S anymore. The quintessentially British retailer bows down to Muslim beliefs. And in turn alienates the majority of Christian and non-religious customers. Outrageous.”
Another customer using the name Mike Hubby Coneman Pearce posted: “PC gone mad! WHAT?! I don’t get it you walk into a shop, you want some bacon, you get served by someone who is a vegetarian do they then get the right to refuse to sell you meat? NO”
And Tony Frost posted: “I hope the halfwits behind this insulting idea are ashamed. I will never shop in your stores again & will be spreading the word in the hope you lose maximum customers.”
An M&S spokesman said: “We recognise that some of our employees practise religions that restrict the food or drink they can handle, or that mean they cannot work at certain times.
“M&S promotes an environment free from discrimination and so, where specific requests are made, we will always make reasonable adjustments to accommodate them, whilst ensuring high levels of customer service.”
The spokesman said the policy applied throughout its 700-plus stores and to other religions as well.
For example, Christians who did not want to work on Sundays and religious Jews who chose not to work on Saturdays would also be excused.