Halaal body up in arms

2013-10-18 00:00

DURBAN-BORN stand-up comic Simmi Areff has refused to heed a call by the SA National Halaal Authority (Sanha) to hand over the promotional material for his upcoming one-man show so that it can be destroyed.

The halaal authority is unhappy with Areff’s satirical use of Sanha’s logo on a poster for his show Strictly Makrooh, which is scheduled for November at the Joburg Theatre.

On Monday, Areff received a strongly worded letter from the Sanha instructing him to hand over his promotional material so that it can be destroyed.

Above an image of the comedian having his chin shaved is an adaptation of the halaal stamp of approval.

Instead of it declaring that his comedy product is halaal, Areff has changed the logo to read “haha-laal” and underneath it, “Simmi Areff National HAHA-laal Authority”.

The Arabic has also been changed to read “haha-laal”.

Sanha’s lawyer, Michael Jackson of Cox Yeats Attorneys, wrote in the letter: “Your utilisation of part of our client’s logo is unlawful”.

He writes that Sanha has the right to interdict the comedian.

Sanha requires a written undertaking that Areff will “immediately cease the use of the trademark” and that all of his poster materials “be delivered to our client, care of ourselves, for destruction”.

Sanha also wants to know the name of the layout designer and the printer of the promotional material.

They are asking for damages, which will depend on the extent to which he has distributed the material.

Areff (25) said he was preparing his lawyer’s response letter to the Sanha.

“That is my position right now,” he said. The comedian and Highveld radio producer was this week instructed to hand over his logo to Sanha to be destroyed.

The former Westville Boys’ High pupil said the poster was intended to be a joke and it has been taken out of context.

“It is sad that some people cannot take a joke. I’m not trying to insult the concept of halaal,” he said.

Areff said he was “shocked and mildly traumatised” when he received the letter. “I’ve never gotten a legal letter in my life.”

He has decided to fight the action on the grounds of his freedom of expression and in light of the precedent-setting 2005 Constitutional Court ruling against SAB and in favour of Laugh It Off’s satirical Black Label T-shirts reading “Black labour, white guilt”.

The Constitutional Court ruled that the

T-shirts had not hurt SAB commercially and that freedom of expression has to be weighed up against commercial interests. Both SAB and Sanha’s cases cite Section 34(3) of the Trade Marks Act of 1993.

Areff’s lawyers will no doubt be taking the same line of defence as Laugh It Off did.

Sanha’s public relations officer E.B.I. Lockhat made it clear the authority — one of four in the country — felt offended.

Said Lockhat: “It is a case of Islam and the dignity of its adherents being attacked through abuse and derision of the halaal logo and its institution, which the community will find deeply offensive to its values.”

Areff, who is one of the producers of a popular satirical radio show and has appeared on Comedy Central, has been opening for his friend and mentor Riaad Moosa’s national tour of Doctor’s Orders.

Makrooh is defined as a disliked or offensive act. Though it is not haram (sinful), a person who abstains from this act will be rewarded.

Sanha has given Areff until tomorrow to respond. If he doesn’t, their lawyers have been “instructed to make an application to the high court”.

“I believe — and I tell everyone — that I’m a Muslim. I’m the best halaal certificate I can be. My show doesn’t require a halaal stamp. I did it as a gag,” Areff said.

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