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Deal approved in Muslims’ suit against McDonald’s

DETROIT — A judge on Wednesday finalized a $700,000 settlement between McDonald’s Corp. and members of Michigan’s Muslim community over claims a suburban Detroit restaurant falsely advertised its food as prepared according to Islamic law.

Ahmed Ahmed, the Dearborn Heights man who represents plaintiffs in the class-action suit, claims he bought a chicken sandwich in September 2011 at the restaurant but found it wasn’t halal. Islam forbids consumption of pork, and God’s name must be invoked before an animal providing meat for consumption is slaughtered.

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The McDonald’s restaurant chain and one of its franchise owners agreed in January to the tentative settlement that would be shared by Ahmed, as well as a Detroit health clinic, the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, and lawyers.

The two sides met Wednesday for final approval before Wayne County Circuit Judge Kathleen Macdonald, who has overseen the case and refereed objections by outside groups since a preliminary deal was announced in January. The settlement was originally set to be finalized March 1, but Macdonald extended the public comment period after pressure from Dearborn lawyer Majed Moughni, who criticized the class-action settlement on Facebook and was temporarily barred from communicating publicly about the case.

Ahmed’s portion of the settlement is considered an ‘‘incentive award’’ and represents his work on the case, his attorneys say.

The lawsuit technically covered anyone who bought the halal-advertised products between September 2005 and January from the restaurant and another McDonald’s in the city with a different owner. The other location wasn’t a defendant or a focus of the investigation.

There are only two McDonald’s in the United States that sell halal products and both are in Dearborn, which has one of the nation’s largest Arab and Muslim communities.

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