The owner of an off licence says he had to close his shop after receiving death threats over the sale of a brand of vodka inspired by an Islamic poet and philosopher.
Ofran Badakhshani closed his store, ‘De Filosoof’ (The Philosopher), in the city of The Hague in the Netherlands, for three days because he feared his life was in danger.
Mr Badakhshani said the death threats came after local Muslims became aware he was selling Rumi Vodka which is named after a renowned 13th century Islamic poet, scholar and mystic.
The Persian spice-infused spirit, a limited edition vodka of which only 2,000 bottles a year are produced, was named after Rumi whose full name was Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi.
Mr Badakhshani says the Turkish community in the Netherlands had objected to the usage of Rumi’s name as well as the vodka’s logo of a whirling dervish.
Rumi inspired the so-called ‘whirling dervishes’ who spin around in circles as a form of meditation.
Mr Badakhshani said: “An influential Turkish columnist encouraged his readers to harass me. In Turkey a petition was started against me as well.
“I received emails saying: ‘We will make sure that this will stop, we will find you, you will not get away with this’.”
The businessman said he had even been visited by groups of Turkish men who had threatened him in his shop.
Mr Badakhshani added: “Each time they came in groups of two or three, people who I’d have never seen before, who hang around near the vodka and then talk in Turkish between them.
“Sometimes they reacted angrily. It all got so threatening that I had to close down the business for a few days.”
Mr Badakhshani added: “And on Facebook I am scolded in Turkish and English. There only has to be one crazy person among them. If I cannot perform my job in the Netherlands, a free country, where can I?”
The liquor store owner is being supported by politicians including the MP Henk Krol, of pensioners’ interests party ’50plus’, who called on the authorities to take tough action.
Mr Krol said: “We live in a free country and we determine what our values are. That should not be indoctrinated from abroad.
“The alcohol is named after philosopher Rumi and this was a man who preached tolerance. When he died, Jews, Muslims and Christians alike fought to carry his body to the grave.”