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Saturday, May 25, 2024

McDonald’s franchise sues Israel boycott movement

The campaign has been accused of harming the brand in Malaysia by means of defamatory social media posts

McDonald’s Malaysia is suing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Malaysia movement for damaging its business through a series of social media posts linking the fast-food chain to Israel’s “genocidal war against Palestinians in Gaza,” Reuters reported on Sunday citing court documents.

According to a writ of summons dated December 19 and seen by the news agency, Gerbang Alaf Restaurants (GAR), which controls the McDonald’s franchise in the country, has accused BDS Malaysia of promoting boycotts against its restaurants with “false and defamatory statements,” which resulted in a loss of profits and job cuts. GAR is now seeking damages from the movement for 6 million ringgit ($1.31 million).

Read more: McDonald’s subsidiaries take sides in Israel-Gaza war

McDonald’s Malaysia confirmed it had started court proceedings against BDS Malaysia in a statement on Friday, saying it is seeking to protect its “rights and interests” in the country. The latter, meanwhile, said it “categorically denies” any wrongdoing and expects the court to sort the matter out.

Israel declared war on Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controlled Gaza, after the latter’s October 7 surprise attack that killed an estimated 1,200 Israelis. Since then, an Israeli offensive has resulted in the deaths of over 21,000 Palestinians in the enclave, according to the local health ministry. Many activists, especially in majority-Muslim countries, have since launched boycott campaigns against businesses with alleged ties to Israel and called for an end to hostilities. Apart from McDonald’s, the companies targeted by the campaigns include Coca-Cola, Starbucks, KFC, Nestle, and IBM.

Read more: After McDonald’s, Burger King drops tomatoes from menu in India

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have staged a de facto blockade of shipping through the Red Sea and attacked vessels thought to be linked to Israel, which they say is also in solidarity with the plight of the Palestinians.

The Malaysian government is an outspoken champion of the Palestinians, and earlier this month reversed its 2002 decision to allow Israeli-flagged ships or vessels headed for the Jewish state to dock or load cargo at its ports, according to an announcement by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s office.