A recent post on the MPH blog about a pleasant experience at Caribou Coffee triggered an urge for me to venti, er, vent.
I used to love going to my local Caribou--the chain has a cute theme, good coffee, and as MPH mentions, above average service. But then I found out that Caribou, which was struggling against the behemoth Starbucks, and losing money, was purchased by the First Islamic Bank of Bahrain. (See this web page) First Islamic later changed its name to Arcapita.
In 2005, Caribou went public, and is traded on the NASDAQ. However, Arcapita is still the majority stockholder, owning 61% of Caribou's stock.
Arcapita/First Islamic Bank is committed to the application of Sharia law in its business practices, and donates money to Islamic charities. As majority owner, Arcapita requires Caribou to be run according to Sharia. From Caribous FAQ section:
In particular, we must comply with Shari'ah principles regarding money that we borrow from other parties. For example, our lease financing arrangement, under which we have obtained financing to fund our operations and expand our business, is structured in a manner that complies with Shari'ah principles. The structure of this lease financing arrangement is described in the prospectus relating to our initial public offering. Also, a Shari'ah-compliant company is prohibited from dealing in the areas of alcohol, gambling, pornography, pork and pork- related products.
I don't know what other facets of Sharia Caribou adheres to other than what is mentioned on their web site. I suspect that most Americans would not want to support Sharia law, from both the right (Christians) and the right (Feminists). From Wikipedia:
Many interpretations of Islamic law hold that women may not have prominent jobs, and thus are forbidden from working in the government. This has been a mainstream view in many Muslim nations in the last century, despite the example of Muhammad's wife Aisha, who both took part in politics and was a major authority on hadith.I am a didactic fellow, I admit it. As soon as I find something like this out, I ask myself, "where will my money go?". Do I want the profits generated from Caribou to support sharia law, and Islamic charities? Even if no money is going to illegal groups, as defined by the U.S. law? No, I do not. Even if Caribou hired a Jewish executive, Michael Coles, to be CEO.
So, I do not buy Caribou coffee. This is not a positive thing for the employees of Caribou, which are hard working Americans.
Arcapita/First Islamic also owns Loehmann's, which it purchased in 2004. This is a shock to some, because Loehmann's was started in 1921 by a Jewish woman, and has been a landmark of the Jewish business landscape. Another business being run under Sharia is Church's Chicken.
The AutoProphet endorses Starbucks, for those of you who must have expensive coffee. I also like Einstein Brothers, which generally has better service then Panera.