Malaysia: Radical Muslims Push Coca-Cola Boycott for ‘Helping Israel’

A woman walks past a soft drink advertisement billboard in Kuala Lumpur, 16 March 2003. Leading softdrinks makers in Malaysia are competing by releasing their new brands faster and more frequent in the market. AFP PHOTO/Ahmad YUSNI (Photo credit should read AHMAD YUSNI/AFP via Getty Images)
AHMAD YUSNI/AFP via Getty

Malaysian “halal activists” – ostensibly groups that pressure vendors into selling food that complies with Islamic dietary laws – on Wednesday announced a boycott against Coca-Cola and other companies seen as supporting Israel during its clash with Palestinian terrorists.

The “boycott” tactics described by Coconuts Kuala Lumpur were much more aggressive than verbally denouncing Coke and refusing to purchase it:

A video showing members of the nonprofit Malaysia’s Islamic Consumers Association, or PPIM, removing dozens of Coca-Cola bottles from a grocery store in Kuala Lumpur has been circulating online since yesterday. The five-minute-long video also showed the group, led by lead vigilante Nadzim Johan, 62, peeling the brand’s labels off of a drinks fridge and placing a sign that said “We do not sell Coca-Cola here.” They nearly set those labels on fire outside the store before deciding to stomp on them. 

“It looks like we can’t burn the material, so we need to step on it,” Nadzim was heard saying in the video, inviting three others from the restaurant next door to join in the Coke-stomping fun.

[…] “This is a symbol of our disappointment towards companies who are helping Israel. If this does not get their attention, we will target other companies,” Nadzim said in the video, later adding: “We hope our friends and family members will join us in this boycott.”

The article did not record the response of grocers to having their property forcibly confiscated and vandalized by PPIM “activists.” PPIM published a list of other vendors targeted for the same treatment, including Starbucks coffee, Pump sportswear, and Hewlett-Packard electronics. Coconuts KL noted many of these brands have also been targeted by “the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement or BDS.”

Coca-Cola’s Malaysian division responded by noting that its local bottling operations would be harmed by a boycott, hurting local employees and retailers.

“We have heard some individuals calling for a boycott of Coca-Cola on the back of false information and rumours circulating on social media and a lack of understanding of our presence in and commitment to the Middle East. We would like to stress that Coca-Cola is made here in Malaysia, for Malaysians and by Malaysians,” the company said.

The statement noted that Coca-Cola also has a “long-standing commitment to the Palestinian market” and has been “one of the largest employers in the territories since we began production in 1998.”

“We remain deeply concerned about the ongoing violence between Palestinians and Israel, and its severe impact on communities in the region. Like everyone of good will, we want to see peace in the Middle East and everywhere else,” Coca-Cola Malaysia added. “Our business is refreshment for everyone and we do not support or oppose religious causes or favor one country over another anywhere in the world.”

The Malaysian Reserve noted on Wednesday that McDonald’s has also been accused of supporting Israeli military efforts by “halal activists” on social media. McDonald’s Malaysia issued a statement denouncing those claims as “lies and slander.”

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