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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2007, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Sweet calendars set for Ramadan
Ramadan Countdown Calendar
Mr Finlay's company was criticised by a neo-Nazi group
Young Muslims will be able to celebrate Ramadan next month with an advent-style calendar - designed by a Jewish food entrepreneur from Manchester.

Neville Finlay came up with the idea after being approached by a national supermarket chain.

A halal chocolate lies under each of the 30 flaps, marking the duration of Ramadan, along with questions on Islam.

Bury-based firm Forest Tree Finest is now planning similar treats for Jewish festivals.

Mr Finlay, who has decided to donate 15p from the sale of each Ramadan calendar to Islamic Relief, is already well known in confectionery circles as he has cornered the market in alternative jelly sweets with kosher, halal and vegetarian versions of Haribo products.

Being Jewish, he had been producing kosher food for years but only came up with the idea of producing halal foods fairly recently.

"I was sitting in Zurich airport waiting for a flight when I got talking to an Egyptian man who said that he would love to eat the sweets but couldn't because of his beliefs," he recalled.

Niche market

"It got me thinking and I decided to address the situation and find an alternative to animal gelatine - which is banned by Islamic law."

Mr Finlay's entrepreneurial determination paid off and in addition to overseas sales, more than 150,000 packets are also sold in the UK every month.

"Although this is the first time we have brought out the calendar, it's looking like being a success as we are already in talks with Asda about a similar project next year," he said.

The only negative feedback we received was from a Neo Nazi group on the web who were complaining because Haribo is an Austrian company and they felt it was unacceptable for the "superior race" to kowtow to Jews and Arabs
Neville Finlay, owner of Forest Tree Finest

"The response has been overwhelmingly positive on all the alternative products we've created.

"It's been a very interesting experience finding out about different cultures and I have learnt a lot about the Muslim faith since taking on the calendar project.

"In fact, the only negative feedback we received was from a neo-Nazi group on the web who were complaining because Haribo is an Austrian company and they felt it was unacceptable for the "superior race" to kowtow to Jews and Arabs."

Although Muslims are expected to fast during the month of Ramadan which begins on 13 September, young children are excused.


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