Starbucks revealed its new design on Tuesday with the title “a symbol of unity”.
But the bizarre religious association came as a flurry of voices criticised the coffee giant, including former Ukip leadership candidate Raheem Kassam.
While Kassam has since told HuffPost UK his tweet was “taking the piss”, others suggested the design echoed the colours of the flag of the Arab league.
Others suggested a boycott citing “political brainwashing”.
Some went further, suggesting the cups were linked to the so-called Islamic State.
William Hicks wrote on Heat Street: “The giant coffee chain is calling this year’s monstrosity the “unity” cup... Hmm, what else is unified…. ISIS!!?! The unified caliphate of the Islamic State!”
It’s not the first time Starbucks has found itself at the centre of a political storm over the colour of its cups.
Last year, Christian evangelicals in America claimed the Seattle-based chain had declared “war on Christmas” by using a simple shade of red on its festive packaging.
Joshua Feuerstein’s widely shared Facebook rant about the issue has been viewed 16 million times since it was posted last November.
“Starbucks isn’t allowed to say Merry Christmas to customers,” Feuerstein raged. “Do you realise that Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups? That’s why they’re just plain red.”
And rather than propose a boycott, Feuerstein asked his followers to “prank” Starbucks by giving the name ‘Merry Christmas’ when asked by employees.
The furore sparked a national scandal in the US, with The Washington Post observing: “Starbucks certainly didn’t seem to anticipate this... in many ways, the cups seemed designed to be unremarkable.”
Kassam, who pulled out of the Ukip leadership race on Monday, had commented on last year’s red cups, writing at the time: “More open? You mean, you’re trying not to ‘offend’ anyone.
“Frankly, the only thing that can redeem them from this whitewashing of Christmas is to print Bible verses on their cups next year.”
Starbucks launched its limited edition green design on Tuesday by saying the cup was about developing ‘unity’ at a time of great division.
It comissioned artist Shogo Ota to create the design to demonstrate ‘humanity and connection’.
Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, said: “The green cup and the design represent the connections Starbucks has as a community with its partners (employees) and customers. During a divisive time in our country, Starbucks wanted to create a symbol of unity as a reminder of our shared values, and the need to be good to each other.”