Dunkin' Donuts poked a hole in its own advertising, ditching a picture of frontwoman Rachael Ray wearing a scarf that looks like a traditional Arab headdress, officials said yesterday.
The ad in question featured Ray wearing a gray pattern scarf that conservative bloggers - led by syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin - complained bore a striking resemblance to a keffiyeh.
That kind of traditional scarf is worn by Arab and Palestinian men, was an emblem of the late Yasser Arafat and has come to symbolize the radical jihad movement, critics said.
"Absolutely no symbolism was intended," Dunkin' Donuts senior vice president Margie Myers said in a prepared statement.
"However, as of this past weekend, we are no longer using the online ad because the possibility of misperception detracted from its original intention to promote our iced coffee."
The checkered scarf was purchased at a US retail store by the shoot's stylist, and Ray had nothing to do with the garment in question, company officials said.
Ray has two shows on the Food Network - "30 Minute Meals" and "Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels" - and the syndicated "Rachael Ray," which are shot in New York.
Although Malkin hadn't been calling for a Dunkin' boycott, she nonetheless hailed the company's move.
"By doing this, they have sent the message they don't want to symbolize a movement that endorses violence," Malkin told The Post.
"I'm satisfied they understood that. From a pure marketing standpoint, what they did was a good thing."
Malkin had previously been highly complimentary of Dunkin' for its stance against illegal immigration.
The commentator refused to take credit for Dunkin' ditching the Ray picture.
"They made a decision not based on a single blog post. There have been many other of their consumers who have expressed this concern," Malkin said.
"I think for once it's refreshing that a company bent over backwards the other direction. A lot of other companies pander to anti-American sentiment."
An Arab-American activist ripped the company.
"I think it's a mistake to demonize a single article of clothing," said Ahmed Rehab, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"Yes, maybe some suicide bombers have worn it, but so have a million other non-suicide bombers. It'd be as ludicrous as decrying clothes because all 19 people involved in the Sept. 11 attacks wore clothes."
In the United States and Europe, the gray and white scarf is much more of a fashion statement than a political one, Rehab said.
"Yes, it has symbolized Palestinians, but it's also a yuppie fashion statement," Rehab joked. "I've seen young blond women wear it on the Tube in London and in Lincoln Park in Chicago. If it's become a political statement, I didn't get the memo on it."
Dunkin' Donuts made the move on Saturday, yanking the picture that had been limited to Internet ads. Malkin first raised the issue on Friday.
A Ray spokesman, Charlie Dougiello, said the issue has been blown out of proportion.
"It's just so ridiculous, we're not going to comment," he said. "It's totally a silly thing."