Budget supermarket Lidl is facing a backlash after airbrushing Christian symbols from packaging in order to remain “religiously neutral”.
The German chain’s Greek food range features images of the famous Anastasis Church in Santorini, Greece, complete with its world-renowned blue dome roof.
But eagle-eyed customers have spotted that the packaging does not feature the Christian crosses that usually adorn the top of the dome and surrounding buildings.
Shoppers have flocked to Lidl UK’s Facebook page to express their “dismay” and “disappointment” over the alteration to the images.
Daniel Novak wrote: “I’m highly disappointed in a company that is bending over to cater to specific people. Why are you hiding from the history?
“We are all to learn from history, removing it with Photoshop will cause the same mistakes of the past to be done over and over again.”
Steve West added: “Why have you taken the crosses off the top of Greek churches in your advertising?
“Is there somebody you will think takes offence? There is. Me, Greeks and many others. I definitely won’t be using you again if you don’t reverse this policy.”
And Daisy Matthews wrote: “Why are you erasing the reality from a photo?
“If there were products from Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, or Muslim countries with their symbols depicted on there I wouldn’t have a problem buying them.
“As a Christian I feel really hurt, discriminated against, upset and disappointed that you have done this, if it is the case I won’t be shopping at your store anymore.”
The ‘Eridanous’ range features Greek delicacies such as olive oil, Moussaka, yogurt and gyros.
Customers have also pointed out that some of the Halal meat products on offer at Lidl appear to feature buildings with minarets – a piece of Islamic religious architecture.
The row has spread across Europe, with shoppers in Belgium and Germany criticising the policy.
A spokesman for Lidl UK said: “We have been selling our highly popular Eridanous own-label range in Lidl stores across Europe for over 10 years now, and in that time the design of the packaging has been through a number of updates.
“We are extremely sorry for any offence caused by the most recent artwork and would like to reassure our customers that this is not an intentional statement. In light of this we will ensure that all feedback is taken into consideration when redesigning future packaging.”
But the Belgian arm of European TV and radio station RTL, which originally picked up the story after a reader who noticed the packaging wrote in, said it had been given a different statement.
“We are avoiding the use of religious symbols because we do not wish to exclude any religious beliefs,” it quoted a spokesman as saying.
“We are a company that respects diversity and this is what explains the design of this packaging.”
RTL added that following the publication of the article, it received another statement.”Our intention has never been to shock,” said the supermarket’s spokesman.
“We avoid the use of religious symbols on our packaging to maintain neutrality in all religions.
“If it has been perceived differently, we apologize to those who may have been shocked.”
Lidl UK did not respond to a request for clarification on these comments.
Source: The Telegraph