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'Boycott US' campaign picking up in
S. Arabia

The Dawn
[Reuters feed]
8 May 2002


RIYADH, May 8: A grassroots campaign to boycott US products in Saudi Arabia has already taken its toll on many local businesses, with sales dropping drastically, executives and activists said on Wednesday.

The campaign, a protest against US support for Israel, is being conducted from mosques, schools and universities, and through newspapers, the Internet and mobile phone text messages urging consumers to shun products originating from the United States.

The Saudi "boycott US" drive mirrors a similar campaign which gathered momentum in several parts of the Arab world at the peak of Israel's invasion of Palestinian lands that began on March 29.

Imams at Saudi mosques have been delivering fiery sermons urging worshippers to drop US consumer goods in favour of other products, ruling that supporting the US economy amounts to killing Palestinians and other Muslims under attack.

Young Saudi boys stand in front of major shopping malls to distribute flyers and leaflets containing a long list of brand names that must be boycotted "in support of our Palestinian brothers".

"I have never seen such an organized anti-US campaign in the kingdom. It looks as if everyone is involved, from school students to religious clerics," a Saudi businessman said. "Two days ago, a carefully-prepared 20-page file was thrown into my house, containing all the information about US products that we should stop buying. They are organized," the businessman added.

Mobile phone owners have received millions of messages exhorting them to join the boycott. "The least you can do is boycott US products," reads one message. "Don't be a partner to crime ... With each dollar you pay (to buy US goods) you kill a Palestinian," says another in reference to US arms supplies to Israel.

Saudis have also been bombarded by e-mails explaining which companies they should boycott and giving a background on many of those firms and their links with Israel.

The campaign is especially hurting business at fast food franchises, sales of soft drinks, and a wide range of consumer goods, but vehicles too.-Reuters