London, Oct 7 (UNI) British Muslims have been warned by the government of hazardous fake holy water being sold to them by criminal gangs.
In a multi-million pounds racket operated by illegal groups, fake holy water claimed to have brought from Mecca is being sold to the muslims living in Britain.
The black market trade in fake 'Zam Zam' water - named after the 14ft-deep well in the holy city in Saudi Arabia from where the genuine substance flows - is becoming a serious concern for health officials.
They have found the water smuggled into the UK illegally and labelled as being brought from the holy spring, visited by millions of Muslims every year as part of the Haj pilgrimage, contains high levels of arsenic and nitrates that can be fatal if regularly consumed over time.
The racket has alarmed Muslim leaders who have called on their followers to boycott all forms of the product on sale in Britain.
In one recent case, an environmental health expert Dr Yunes Teinaz found an Islamic bookshop that was selling an estimated 20,000 litres of Zam Zam water a week.
''This water is contaminated and unsafe for the consumer,'' Mr Teinaz was quoted as saying by the Observer.
''And people are making millions of pounds selling this stuff,'' he added.
The water selling for 3 pounds per small can, is a huge moneyspinner for the gangs involved. Mr Teinaz said it was unclear exactly where the water was coming from, but that it cannot be genuine Zam Zam water.
The commercial export of the holywater from Saudi Arabia is illegal. The bottling of the genuine substance and its distribution is monitored strictly by the Saudi government.
Surveys reveal some of the imported water contains almost three times as much nitrate and twice as much arsenic as the World Health Organisation believes is safe.
Mr Teinaz said some unscrupulous operators in Britain were mixing normal tap water with salt and marketing it as the holy water.
Zam Zam water is sacred within Islam and its provenance is recorded in Islamic texts. Today Muslims from all over the world visit the well, believing it to be divinely blessed.