KUALA LUMPUR: A movement promoting boycotts against Israeli interests has denied initiating a boycott of McDonald’s restaurants in Malaysia, claiming the boycott was first begun by ordinary Malaysians.
BDS Malaysia chairman Nazari Ismail said the group had merely supported the efforts of Malaysians who wished to boycott McDonald’s Malaysia.
“We never held any campaigns (calling for a boycott of McDonald’s Malaysia). We didn’t start it. But we supported the movement, we did not oppose,” he told reporters when met at the six-day pro-Palestine gathering outside the US embassy here.
He said McDonald’s Malaysia was suing the group “saying we incited the people (to boycott) and slandered them”. He said BDS had replied to say the group endorsed and supported the Malaysian people’s decision to boycott McDonald’s Malaysia.
BDS is part of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement seeking action against Israel.
Nazari said BDS’s legal team was confident that McDonald’s Malaysia had no basis for its RM6 million defamation suit. He said he was puzzled why the restaurant chain was suing them.
“We leave it to the courts,” he said, adding that he hoped Malaysians would support the group financially in terms of legal costs, if necessary.
McDonald’s Malaysia has accused BDS of defaming the fast-food franchise through its calls for a boycott for purportedly “colluding with Israel”.
A statement of claim dated Dec 19 was filed by McDonald’s Malaysia franchise owner Gerbang Alaf Restaurants Sdn Bhd.
It seeks an unconditional apology from BDS and RM6 million in damages, comprising RM3 million for loss of revenue, RM1.5 million for employees who were laid off and RM1.5 million for expiry of materials.
Gerbang Alaf Restaurants also seeks an injunction against BDS from calling for a boycott. The statement also made reference to several posters which included McDonald’s Malaysia logo which were shared by BDS relating to companies allegedly “profiting from the genocide”.