U.S. fast-food chains feel backlash in Bahrain

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U.S. fast-food chains feel backlash in Bahrain

Bahrain | From Latheef Farook | 03-11-00

The American fast food chains here, widely popular especially among the younger Bahrainis, are beginning to feel the pinch in their business as public sentiment turns against the United States for what has been described as its blind support of Israel in the current wave of violence in the Palestinians territories.

And writers here, as in many Arab states, have called on their readers to boycott American and British made goods as a way to prevent these countries' moral and financial support for Israel. But they also said they suspect the public would heed the boycott call. "Israel's senseless killing of stone throwing Palestinians who are fighting for their rights and the American government's support to Israel is certainly kindling the feeling of people here and having its own impact in our business," an operations manager of one of the American fast food chains told Gulf News yesterday. "We are beginning to feel the impact," but he did not give figures for the losses.

Another, Camille Aoun, Operations Manager for Burger King, said, "There has been a slight downward trend in our business since the outbreak of violence." Other American chains like Dairy Queen and McDonald have not reported any decreases in their profits or size of customers. Despite the constant airing of footage of violence in Palestinian cities and villages and the tens of daily stories and articles in the press blaming Israel and the United States for the deaths of Palestinians, not many are optimistic Bahrainis will be able to give up their consumer habits. "Can we resist American fast foods and keep our consumption habits under control and stop visiting commercial centres which sell U.S. goods?" asked Al Ayam columnist Hanan Salem. "Although I hope the answer is "yes" regrettably I believe it is to the contrary," she added. There are many who are not convinced of the need to boycott U.S. and British goods due to their beliefs in globalisation, openness and free market economy which overshadows any national, Arab or Islamic principles and feelings, she said.

"I believe the boycott is unavoidable, particularly now as we all know Israel would not have existed and continued to exist as an entity, had it not been backed by the U.S. and European countries, especially Britain, the architect of Israel," she wrote recently.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), November 04, 2000

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