The Australian, Dec. 4, 2002
Australian Muslims have been called to join an international Islamic boycott of US-owned and Israeli-supporting companies and brands including McDonald’s, David Jones, Coles and Red Rooster.
Hundreds of leaflets telling Muslims that “Boycotting is Our Weapon” were distributed in Lakemba asking them not to buy from the companies because they “assist Israel in its crimes against our Muslim brothers, sisters and children around the world”.
The boycott call comes as Australia’s Muslim leaders warned Prime Minister John Howard their community was at “breaking point” over his “abandonment” amid a growing climate of “fear and suspicion”. And it was revealed yesterday the traditional Eid-ul-Fitr celebration at the Lakemba Mosque later this week will be toned down after the Bali Bombings.
The leaflet was brought to the attention of The Daily Telegraph by a Lakemba resident who found it on the windscreen of her car on Monday.
The double-sided flyer calls for the boycotting of 35 companies and brands along with an horrific image of a Palestinian baby allegedly shot by an Israeli sharpshooter. It features a quotation from the Koran and: “Boycott Israel; Muslims United: We Can Make a Difference”.
The flyer carries the website of a pro-Palestininan UK-based group called Innovative Minds which preaches anti-globalisation. A slew of other companies including The Daily Telegraph and Revlon are named on the group’s website.
The nine-month campaign has led to the closure of a reported 70 McDonald’s outlets in the Middle East.
McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Sara Lee, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, Nestle, Revlon and Kimberly-Clark all either refused to comment or did not return calls made by The Daily Telegraph.
Coles Myer released a statement saying it was “an apolitical wholly-owned Australian company whose only interest is to serve its customers well”.
The Australian Arabic Community Council has backed the boycott with chairman Hassan Moussa likening it to the international boycott of South Africa over apartheid.
“A lot of people in our community feel powerless to stop what is going on in the Middle East,” he said. “The only power that they have is purchasing power – this is something people can do at a personal level.
“It’s not an organised campaign (in Australia) – it’s probably a personal initiative.”
The the leaflet comes at a tense time in the Australian Muslim community with its leadership warning the Prime Minister had alienated Muslims by failing to defend them.
Muslim leader Jamal Rifi said the Prime Minister was being “dangerous” by playing one group in Australian society off against another and multiculturalism was in dire need of “resuscitation”.
“We are more than angry,” Dr Rifi said. “Alienating our community does not help.”