A Crate Of Mistaken Identity

An interfaith coalition which includes representatives of the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religions is calling on Belgium-based brewing giant AB InBev to rename its Brahma line of beers which are popular in Brazil and first produced there in 1888.

"Anheuser-Busch InBev should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege and ridiculing entire communities," the coalition said in a statement, calling on the company to "prove that it cares about communities by renaming its Brahma beer."

"It is the right time to fix an old wrong. The trivializing of the faith of our Hindu brothers and sisters for about 132 years. Lord Brahma, the god of creation in Hinduism, is a highly revered figure who should be worshipped in temples or home shrines, "not misused as a 'toasting tool,'" coalition spokesperson Rajan Zed told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

But Lucas Rossi, head of communications for Anheuser-Busch InBev's Latin America subsidiary, insists the beers were named in tribute to Joseph Bramah (an Englishman who invented the draft pump valve) and not for the Hindu deity. The spelling was changed, he said, to make the name work better in the Portuguese language.

"We deeply respect religions for sure," Rossi said in a telephone interview. Hindus are a tiny minority in Brazil, where the Brahma brand is "very important to the culture of the country," he said.

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