Posted by AssyriansVote4Peace from dialup-126.96.36.199.Dial1.LosAngeles1.Level3.net (188.8.131.52) on Friday, October 11, 2002 at 11:39PM :
Published on Friday, October 11, 2002 by the Times/UK
Americans Feel Pinch as Arab Boycott Starts to Bite
by Michael Theodoulou and Daniel McGrory
WHEN school’s over, Najeeb Atallah, 10, and a couple of friends head for the local McDonald’s in Amman to picket their classmates.
Two branches of the chain have closed in the region and some staff have left their jobs, fearful of local reprisals. What began two years ago as a low-key protest against US support for Israel has developed into a sustained campaign against America’s best known brands. Threats of a conflict in Iraq have given further impetus to the economic boycott. Fast food outlets, toy makers, drink and cosmetics companies, and even Disneyland, are feeling the squeeze.
Muslim clerics call for a boycott during Friday prayers, religious and political leaders have gone on television in Saudi Arabia to support the anti-US protests. Leaflets are handed out listing brands to boycott, and there are thousands of protest calls on the internet.
Trade between the US and Arab countries is said to be down by at least 25 per cent since last year. Some economists argue that this is mainly due to the price of oil and exchange rates, but the boycott is taking its toll. Leading soft drinks companies and fast food chains have reported a drop in business of 25 to 40 per cent in the Arab world.
In Saudi Arabia, prices of US imports have been cut by half to tempt local people. There have been sit-in protests at branches of Burger King and McDonald’s in Beirut, while outlets have been vandalized in Bahrain and Oman. Coca-Cola’s plant in south India has been bombed and so has a branch of KFC in Tripoli.
On the streets of Cairo there are leaflets circulating urging a boycott of McDonald’s and Burger King, Tide and Ariel detergents, Pampers nappies, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Marlboro cigarettes and Heinz ketchup.
Protest organizers in Lebanon have targeted multinationals such as Johnson & Johnson, Philip Morris (cigarettes and food products), L’Oréal (cosmetics), Nestlé, Timberland, Estée Lauder (cosmetics), Hasbro (toys) and Sara Lee.
Supermarkets serving the 250 million-strong Arab consumer market say everything from breakfast cereals to American cigarettes is being left on the shelf.
Copyright 2002 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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