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Coventry Muslim athlete slams pub's 'extremely offensive' London Marathon promo blunder

Coventry Live logo Coventry Live 03/10/2022 Paul Suart

A Muslim athlete from Coventry has criticised a pub for using an image of him to promote a free drink offer for London Marathon runners. The Bedford in Balham, south London, used a picture of Haroon Mota with his 2021 London Marathon medal in a social media promotion to entice participants in yesterday's event.

Haroon, a practising Muslim who does not drink alcohol, took exception to the use of his picture in the pub's campaign. In a tweet this morning directed at the pub, Haroon said: "URGENT request to please remove this post and the one on your Instagram page.

"It is forbidden for Muslims to drink alcohol. Using my face to promote alcohol is extremely offensive & inconsiderate."

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Haroon, founder of the Active Inclusion Network, 'Championing Diversity in Outdoors & Fitness', also took part in the Marathon yesterday. He posted about how he used his latest medal as a metallic oyster card to travel for free on the London Underground.

Haroon's tweet to The Bedford attracted a lot of sympathy and further condemnation of the pub, and not just by individual Twitter users. The London Marathon's official account slammed the pub for using its own copyrighted picture without consent.

"We own this photograph and have not given you permission to use it in your marketing," London Marathon said. "We ask that you remove this post and any like it. Thank you."

"This is SO bad on so many levels," Adya Misra said. "I assume no consent to post pictures either. @TheBedfordPub please rectify." Another Twitter user, @PeakDistrictDeb, urged the pub to "sort out some equality, diversity & inclusion training for your team". "Unless this was your idea of a ‘funny’ joke? I really hope not," she said.

Taneem Saeed, @StattoCricket, said: "Disappointing from a local business to where I currently live. Do better at your diversity @TheBedfordPub This is incredibly inconsiderate and offensive."

Ruma Ali, @ru17maa, said: "Shocking!! Utterly Disgraceful." And Imrana, @Imrana_M_, said: "Gosh Haroon, this is completely unacceptable. I hope it is immediately rectified, along with an apology."

The pub apologised directly to Haroon in a message on Twitter. "It was a huge error on our part," a spokesperson said. "The post has been removed and we will do much better in the future."

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