Star­bucks fac­ing boy­cott

Malaysia, In­done­sia Mus­lim groups call for protests over chain’s sup­port of LGBT rights

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS -

Mus­lim groups in Malaysia and In­done­sia have called for a boy­cott of Star­bucks be­cause of the cof­fee chain’s sup­port for LGBT rights.

Malaysian group Perkasa, which sup­ports a hard-line form of Is­lam and na­tion­al­ism, this week called on its more than 500,000 mem­bers to stay away from Star­bucks cof­fee shops. This week and last, lead­ers of In­done­sia’s se­cond largest main­stream Mus­lim group, Muham­madiyah, with an es­ti­mated 29 mil­lion mem­bers, de­nounced the chain.

The groups were ap­par­ently re­act­ing to com­ments made sev­eral years ago by for­mer CEO Howard Schultz in sup­port of gay rights that drew re­newed at­ten­tion amid an in­creas­ingly anti-LGBT cli­mate in both of the pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim coun­tries.

Perkasa said in a state­ment that the Malaysian govern­ment should re­voke the trad­ing li­cense given to Star­bucks and other com­pa­nies such as Mi­crosoft and Ap­ple that sup­port LGBT rights same-sex mar­riage.

Amini Amir Ab­dul­lah, who heads Perkasa’s Is­lamic af­fairs bu­reau, said Mus­lims should stay away from Star­bucks be­cause its pro-gay rights pol­icy and is against Is­lam and Malaysia’s con­sti­tu­tion.

Sodomy is il­le­gal in Malaysia and pun­ish­able by up to 20 years in prison. Ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is not il­le­gal in In­done­sia, the world’s most pop­u­lous Mus­lim na­tion, but a case be­fore the con­sti­tu­tional Court is seek­ing to crim­i­nal­ize gay sex and sex out­side of mar­riage.

A boy­cott Star­bucks hash­tag was briefly pop­u­lar on Twit­ter in In­done­sia and shares of the com­pany that op­er­ates Star­bucks in the coun­try fell sharply this week. But its stores in the cap­i­tal Jakarta ap­peared as pop­u­lar as ever.

Gavin Bowring, a Malaysia an­a­lyst at risk con­sult­ing com­pany Eura­sia Group, said the boy­cott was un­likely to amount to much but re­flected “a grow­ing ten­dency to­ward con­ser­vatism and strict ad­her­ence to Is­lamic prin­ci­ples.”

AP PHOTO

A Mus­lim woman walks past a Star­bucks Cof­fee shop in Rawang out­side Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thurs­day. Mus­lim groups in Malaysia and In­done­sia have called for a boy­cott of Star­bucks be­cause of the cof­fee chain’s sup­port for LGBT rights.

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