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American companies feel impact boycotts JAKARTA - Companies that were once proof of American entrepreneurial skill are having to retreat in the face of a boycott by Muslims of US products in protest against the US's support for Israel. Although it is not sanctioned by Muslim governments, which are fearful of American reprisals, the boycott has hit such American giants as McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Coke and Pepsi.
The boycott is not confined to the Middle East, where some company sales have dropped by as much as 65 percent; even in the US there has been an adverse effect.McDonald's announced in December that it will close 300 stores worldwide; its profits have fallen for the first time in 26 years.
Similarly, K-Mart announced the closure of 300 stores last month that will result in 25,000 layoffs. AT&T announced at the beginning of January that it will lay off 1,700 employees. The biggest blow has been dealt to the airline industry: pilots, cabin-crews and ground staff have been forced to take drastic cuts in salary, yet even that has not prevented airline income from nose-diving.
This has happened despite the injection of some US $11 billion by the US government into the airline industry since September 2001. The boycott has not merely had adverse results; there is also a consequent effort to produce and consume locally-produced goods instead. The biggest success-story has been Iran's Zam Zam Cola, whose sales have skyrocketed. The manufacturers cannot keep pace with demand from customers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf states.
In the United Arab Emirates Star Cola is doing brisk business, while an enterprising Muslim in France has come up with the brand name "Mecca Cola". From Morocco to Indonesia, people are expressing their anger by boycott. Two of the six McDonald's franchises in Jordan have closed for lack of business, and KFC and McDonald's branches in Muscat, the capital of Oman, report that sales have fallen by up to 65 percent.
Ulama have blessed the boycott, transcending ethnic, sectarian and nationalistic boundaries. Shaikh Seyyed Hussain Fadlallah of Lebanon has said that Arabs and Muslims should replace US products with European or Asian goods. The Egyptian scholar Shaikh Yusuf al-Qardawi, who runs a regular programme on al-Jazeera, has also supported the boycott campaign. In Saudi Arabia, Shaikh Omar bin Saeed al-Badna has said that theboycott will also be good for the country's local economy.
In Beirut, students have protested outside the city's four Starbucks shops, withleaflets that describe in detail the pro-Israeli sentiments of Howard Shultz, its chief executive, who has made no secret of being an "active zionist". Two newspapers in Morocco, L'Economiste and Assabah have launched a campaign against the US dollar, urging Moroccans to avoid using the currency in their business dealings, and to choose the euro instead wherever possible.
Others have suggested that Muslims develop either a common currency of their own, or use a basket of Muslim currencies for trading with each other. Given that there are 56 Muslim countries, with a combined population of some 1.5 billion people, the initiative could bring about economic development in the Muslim world as a result of a grassroots movement.
In any case, given the shakiness of the US's economy and the fall in the dollar's value, Muslims would be well advised to secure their investments. The estimated US $ 1.2 trillion invested by Muslims in the US are in danger.



Posted in General @ 08 March 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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