McDonald’s Malaysia has taken legal action against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Malaysia movement, seeking damages amounting to 6 million ringgit ($1.31 million).
The lawsuit, filed by Gerbang Alaf Restaurants Sdn Bhd (GAR), the licensee of McDonald’s in Malaysia, alleges that BDS Malaysia made false and defamatory statements through social media postings, linking the fast-food franchise to Israel’s military actions in Gaza.
The case happens against the backdrop of Malaysia’s support for the Palestinian cause and a surge in boycott campaigns against Western brands associated with Israel.
Malaysia, being a majority-Muslim country, has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian people. In the wake of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, Western fast-food brands in Malaysia, including McDonald’s, have become targets of boycott campaigns by groups like BDS Malaysia.
According to a writ of summons dated December 19, GAR alleges that BDS Malaysia’s social media posts incited the public to boycott McDonald’s Malaysia.
The company claims that this resulted in a loss of profit, job cuts, and other damages, including closures and shortened operating hours of its outlets.
The lawsuit points to statements linking McDonald’s and other companies to Israel’s genocidal war against Palestinians in Gaza.
McDonald’s Malaysia issued a statement confirming the filing of the lawsuit against BDS Malaysia. The statement addresses the company’s commitment to protecting its rights and interests and clarifies that it does not support the conflict in Gaza.
McDonald’s Malaysia shows its contribution of 1 million ringgit ($218,000) to the Palestinian Humanitarian Fund launched by the government and expresses sympathy for the innocent victims in Gaza.
BDS Malaysia, in response to the legal action, denies defaming McDonald’s Malaysia. In a statement, the movement asserts its commitment to letting the court decide the matter.
The BDS movement, globally initiated in 2005 by Palestinian civil society organizations, seeks to end international support for Israel’s perceived oppression of Palestinians and calls for adherence to international law.
The BDS movement’s calls for boycotts against companies allegedly supporting Israel come in Israel’s offensive in Gaza, triggered by Hamas attacks.
Beyond Malaysia, Western brands, including McDonald’s, KFC, and Zara, have faced similar boycott campaigns globally, with activists alleging with Israeli actions.
The legal battle between McDonald’s Malaysia and BDS Malaysia is around defamation and the alleged economic impact on the fast-food giant.
GAR contends that the social media posts were not only defamatory but also malicious, harming the company’s reputation and complicity in war crimes.
On the other hand, BDS Malaysia maintains that it has not engaged in any defamation and expects the court to resolve the matter.
The BDS movement, inspired by the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, advocates for political actions against Israel.
It targets not only the government but also associated institutions and companies allegedly violating Palestinian human rights.
The Malaysian government’s stance on the Palestinian issue is in public sentiment but also in official decisions.
Recently, Malaysia reversed its 2002 decision to allow Israeli-flagged ships or vessels heading for Israel to dock or load cargo at its ports.
The Malaysian government has taken steps such as reversing its decision to allow Israeli-flagged ships to dock at its ports, showing solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
Globally, businesses with perceived ties to Israel have faced boycott campaigns, a sentiment regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Companies like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, KFC, Nestle, and IBM have also been targeted by activists calling for an end to hostilities and alleged complicity in Israeli actions.