Bowing to complaints from angry customers, Publix has agreed to remove a free 2010 calendar from its stores that mentions the beginning of the Islamic new year on Dec. 7 but not the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
The flap started when South Florida radio talk show host Joyce Kaufman complained on her WFTL 850-AM program earlier in the week that the calendar identifies Dec. 7 as the start of the Islamic new year. She told her listeners in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami to let Publix know if they were offended.
"Not Pearl Harbor Day. Instead Happy new year, Islam, or some such?" she said on air Thursday.
The Publix corporate office said it received dozens of complaints, mostly focused on the exclusion of any mention of the Pearl Harbor anniversary. The calendar did not mention the infamous attack last year either.
The date of the Islamic new year varies because it is not based on the 365-day calendar.
"We have great diversity in our customers and wanted to include as many of them as we could, which is why we included the Islamic new year along with Passover, Palm Sunday and a number of the national holidays of our customers," said Publix spokesman Shannon Patten.
"Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day wasn't included because it's not a holiday." Memorial Day and Veterans Day are included.
But because of the complaints, said Patten, the free calendar, which contains numerous coupons and is distributed primarily in South Florida, is no longer available in stores. There are no plans to reprint a 2010 calendar, according to Patten.
"Getting the calendar pulled is more about a cottage industry of Muslim bashers who seek every opportunity to demonize Islam than it is about Pearl Harbor Day," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C.
"Certainly, no one has an issue with including Pearl Harbor Day," said Hooper, "But that's not what this is about."
Kaufman said she objected because she didn't want World War II veterans "to be disappointed" and because she views Muslims as "an enemy who declared war on us," Kaufman told the St. Petersburg Times.
Furthermore, she said, she thought it was inappropriate to have holidays for people from the Caribbean and Central and South America on the calendar. The calendar identifies independence days in a number of countries from this hemisphere.
"Why pander to Islamics and people from Peru, Belize, Cuba and Haiti?" she said on the phone. "It's irrelevant in America."
Among the calls to Publix complaining about the inclusion of the Islamic new year and the exclusion of Pearl Harbor Day, were a few calls thanking Publix for the calendar.
One such call came from Teak Tina, a Fort Lauderdale retailer who shops at Publix.
"I told the Publix people that I love South Florida because it's a melting pot," he said. "You see people from everywhere at Publix, and I thanked them for reflecting this in their calendar."
Publix spokesman Patten said that next year's calendar will include Pearl Harbor Day, the Islamic new year and the national holidays of Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.
"We'd like to make everyone happy," she said.
Kaufman said she won't complain next year, as long as Pearl Harbor is included.
Meg Laughlin can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8068.