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The New Arab Staff

Kuwait supermarkets pull French products over Prophet Muhammad cartoons

Several co-ops had cleared the shelves of items products made by French companies [AFP]

Date of publication: 26 October, 2020

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The NGO Union of Consumer Co-operative Societies, which groups more than 70 firms, issued the boycott directive in an October 23 circular.

Kuwait's retail co-ops have removed French products from their shelves, in a boycott over the use of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in France.

The NGO Union of Consumer Co-operative Societies, which groups more than 70 firms, issued the boycott directive in an 23 October circular.

By Sunday, several co-ops had cleared the shelves of products made by French companies.

The products were removed in response to "repeated insults" against the prophet, Union head Fahd Al-Kishti said in comments to Reuters.

Calls for a boycott of French goods have also come from groups in Jordan, Kuwait and Qatar after President Emmanual Macron said his country would not to "give up cartoons" that depict the prophet.

In Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's largest economy, a hashtag calling for the boycott of French supermarket retailer Carrefour was the second most trending on Sunday.

French companies brace for boycott

On Monday, the head of France's MEDEF employers' federation said the boycott, which he described as "foolishness", was clearly bad news for companies already hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

"But there is no question of giving in to blackmail," Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux told broadcaster RMC. "It is a question of sticking to our republican values. 

"There is a time to put principles above business." 

He said MEDEF supported the government's stance and urged companies "to resist this blackmail and, unfortunately, to endure this boycott", which he said remained "fairly localised" for now.

Comments made recently by Macron about Islamic militants and his reaction to the 16 October murder of a French teacher by a teenage Chechen extremist have sparked tensions with several Arab and Muslim countries and populations.

Macron said history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded for showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to pupils "because Islamists want our future", prompting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to suggest the French leader have "mental checks".

The French foreign ministry also urged countries where boycott calls had been made to stop them and ensure the security of French citizens.

"Calls for a boycott are groundless and must cease immediately, as must all attacks on our country that have been manipulated by a radical minority," a ministry statement said.

The head of the Amman chamber of commerce, Khalil Haj Tawfeeq, in a letter to the French ambassador to Jordan, called on Macron to apologise to the Islamic world.

France's Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot insisted on Monday on BFMTV that there was "no fight against French Muslims, there is simply a fight against Islamism and terrorism".

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