On 17th December, Francophone Belgian website 7sur7 reported that Toblerone chocolate received its halal certification in April 2018. The article’s sensationalist title – “What you probably did not know about Toblerone” – implies that the owner of the brand, the US food group Mondelez , is involved in a secret conspiracy to please Muslim buyers to the detriment of others. Although Toblerone’s recipe had not actually changed, the article maintains this accusatory tone throughout by using words that imply conspiracy, like “in all discretion” and “did not want to reveal”.
Framing the story in this way is journalistically irresponsible as it encourages the dissemination of xenophobic narratives on “Islamisation” in Europe and on Muslim people as a covert threat to the West. Once the news on the Halal certification was published across European media, it sparked outrage within the far-right, who started boycotting Toblerone. What the boycotters choose to ignore is that Toblerone had always met the halal criteria anyway and that most of the food Mondelez produce was Halal-friendly in the first place. Not having pork or alcohol in a bar of chocolate is not particularly surprising. The only actual change from the certification is the right for the Halal certification authorities to inspect Toblerone’s Bern factory every eight months. 7sur7’s own admission that nothing has actually changed suggests that this article was written with the explicit aim of inciting hatred against Muslims.
The European Forum of Muslim Women, GTTO partner for francophone Belgian media, lodged a formal complaint with 7sur7 asking the website why they chose to publish this article. To date, there has been no response from the editors.