MUMBAI – Angered by the daily deaths in Palestine’s Gaza strip at the hands of Israel forces, hundreds of hotels and restaurants owned by Indian Muslims are protesting against the Israeli offensive in their own way by boycotting many soft drinks manufactured in the USA.
“We’re here in India and could only do so much. And what better way than to attack their economy,” Umar Sheikh, owner of Shalimar Restaurant, told OnIslam.net.
“They should know that the people are against them and they should also realise that whatever they are doing is wrong.”
Muslims in Mumbai are showing their resentment against the United States through the boycott of American soft drinks as they believe the US is standing with Israel in this aggression.
They say USA has always supported Israel.
Over a thousand hotels and restaurants in Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, have stopped serving brands like Pepsi and Coca Cola to their customers. Majority of these hotel owners are Muslims.
“We are following the principles of Mahatma Gandhi who taught us non-violence,” said Jawed Kotwal, owner of Persian Darbar, a hotel in Mumbai.
“We are not forcing anybody; we have just stopped serving those products to our customers and given them a replacement. Slowly we shall replace all US products with Indian products.”
There are almost 2,000 hotels and restaurants in Mumbai whose owners are Muslims. Majority of them have begun selling local products to their consumers instead of Pepsi and Coke.
Jawed Kotwala, who is also a member of All India Restaurant Association told OnIslam.net, “The companies are incurring huge losses. Loss must be around 14 million rupees (US$ 230,000) every day.”
Israel has been launching relentless airstrikes against Gaza since July 8 where hundreds have been killed and thousands injured.
Israel has claimed that its new war on Gaza, under the title Operation Protect Edge, was a response to the rocket attacks being carried out by Hamas.
Israel occupation forces started a ground invasion of besieged Gaza, home to two millions civilian, on Thursday, July 17.
Palestinian victims of the four-week war on Gaza have rose above 1,410 deaths with more than 7,600 injured.
Along with Mumbai, hotel owners of Mumbra, a suburb of Mumbai, have also started boycotting US products.
According to hotel owners, boycott of US and Israeli products would also help local manufacturers and save Indian money from going abroad.
In Muslim-dominated areas, even customers are supporting this decision.
“We don’t want to go for these drinks. We want the US and Israel to realize that what they are doing is not right,” said Fahad Sheikh, a college student who wanted every Muslim to boycott these products.
“As Indian citizens, we cannot do anything from here. However, through this boycott we may be able to affect the revenue of these companies to some extent.”
Another restaurant owner Umar Sheikh told Onislam.net, “We are offering customers juices and jalzeera (cumin and mint flavored Indian lemonade) in place of these soft drinks.”
The hotels’ decision was welcomed by local customers.
“I appreciate their decision. I am with them. I don’t mind not drinking these products,” customer Siraj Ahmed told OnIslam.net.
“This is our small support to the people of Gaza. How can we support companies from those countries who are killing innocent Palestinians?”
The hotel and restaurant owners said that their protest is peaceful against those countries which care least about the humanity.
“Our boycott would continue unless and until the situation improves in Palestine. We cannot buy products of those people who were killing our brothers, sisters and children,” Omaer Sheikh told OnIslam.net.
A similar boycott was organized by hoteliers in India when the US was bombing Afghanistan in 2001. US products Coca Cola and Pepsi are quite popular among Indians.
The Indian Muslims are also expressing their displeasure against the Indian government who they feel is not doing enough against Israel.
“We know that our government is not supporting the Palestinian cause. As a Muslim, we have to show our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Gaza,” said Shakib Khan, a resident of Mumbai.
Indian government had rejected a resolution condemning Israel in the Parliament.
Ties between India and Israel have improved in the last few years. However, India supported a Human Rights Council resolution for a probe into alleged war crimes committed by Israel in Palestine.
Muslims in India constitute 14 percent population of the country.
Demonstrations against Israel have been organized in majority of Indian cities with Muslims and civil society workers demanding an end to Israeli aggression.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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