Malaysian automaker will reportedly build a ‘Muslim car’

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First, there was the kosher cell phone. Now comes the Islamic car.

It sounds like the setup for a bad joke, but technology marketers have discovered that it can be lucrative to target religious groups.

A proposal by Malaysian automaker Proton to build a “Muslim car” in partnership with Iran and Turkey was reported last weekend by the Malaysian news agency Bernama.

The cars would feature a compass that points to Mecca for daily prayers and compartments for storing a Koran and head scarfs, Proton Managing Director Syed Zainal Abidin told Bernama.

“The car will have all the Islamic features and should be meant for export purposes,” he was quoted as saying.

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Proton has fallen on hard times and the company needs a new gimmick to boost its bottom line.

The marriage of ancient religion and newfangled gizmo can work well. Motorola had a hit in Israel last year when it began marketing the J-Phone, which blocks text messages, Internet access, voice mail and all phone sex and dating lines.

The phone plan, marketed to ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, features low charges to call others in the same network and high charges for calling outsiders.

The phone got a crucial seal of approval from Israel’s rabbinical authorities – basically certifying it kosher – but it still can’t be used on the Jewish Sabbath.

At least not without the user paying a $2.44-per-minute religious penalty.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
New York Daily News, USA
Nov. 13, 2007
Helen Kennedy

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This post was last updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 2:30 PM, Central European Time (CET)