ISLAMABAD: Activists have often used economic power to take a stand. In order to take a stand, activists have often used economic power as a tool. From a Jewish-American boycott of Nazi Germany to the campaign against Apartheid South Africa are examples of using boycotts as a political protest.
French officials are in a state of panic as a boycott movement has begun across the Muslim world in response to comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The French President has claimed that the religion is in ‘crisis’ across the world and he accused Muslims in his own country of ‘Islamic separatism’.
France is also planning to introduce more measures to target the Muslim community, France is going to add to a number of restrictions on the faith, such as a ban on face veils, the prohibition on wearing headscarves in schools and restrictions on who can practice as an imam in mosques across the country.
Situation in France is intense after the murder of a school teacher who displayed offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in his classroom during a lesson on free expression.
In response of the incident, French president displayed the cartoons on the buildings across the country to ire the Muslims across the world.
As a result, a boycott campaign against France has gone viral, with shops across the Middle East and other majority Muslim areas withdrawing French products.
France has responded by sending diplomats to convince Muslim leaders to stop shops from pulling French products.
According to some reports, the French ambassador in Egypt approached the Grand Mufti of Al Azhar Ahmed Tayeb to lobby him against the boycott. Tough the attempt was unsuccessful
There are five examples from the history which show that the use of boycotts as political protests is nothing new in recent history.
1933: The Anti-Nazi Boycott
Jews were quick to realize the dangers, Nazi government in Germany posed to the world order.
Adolf Hitler was not afraid of showing his hatred of the Jewish people and after coming in to power in berlin in 1933, he immediately made policies that lead to the holocaust.
By the 1930s, in United State there were more than four million Jews, and the majority of those were people were those who had fled European anti-Semitism.
Jewish leaders of that time, warned that government were “unaware” of the dangers posed by Hitlerand then the boycotts against Nazi’s started with a purpose raising awareness and also hitting the pockets of the Nazi treasury.
However, many of the Jewish community across the world were not in favor of the boycotts and they feared that the Nazis would respond in kind or in an even worse manner.
Their fears showed up in the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses shortly after the anti-Nazi boycott began.
And in response, Hitler rapidly increase oppression against the Jews of Germany, and Europe, resulting in the Holocaust, which killed at least six million European Jews.
Militant banners carried by a group from the Jewish Anti-Nazi Federation of Detroit threaten a boycott of Nazi goods on March 14,1937 in Detroit. Courtesy (AP Photo) (AP)
1959: Anti-apartheid boycott
While the Jewish boycott against Nazis was not successful and it did not deter Hitler from carrying out the Holocaust, the international movement that built up around the world to punish Apartheid South Africa for its racist policies towards Black South Africans proved ultimately successful.
The boycott movement was started in London in 1959, by the exiled south Africans in London. The movement soon got support from celebrities and local government across the world
Although, the movement had support of the UN General Assembly but still it struggled for decades as westerns powers such as UK and US, refused to put economic pressure on the Apartheid regime.
Many countries across the globe, including most in Africa, Asia, Turkey, and the Soviet Union, and many others, refused to establish any ties with the Apartheid regime.
However, the boycott succeeded after cutting off ties by ordinary people, institutions, trade unions, local councils, and universities with their South African counterparts.
Activists succeeded in making the regime anexile government, which resulted in its ban from the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and eventual dismissal from the International Olympic Committee in 1970.
Due to the pressure, movement succeeded in forcing the gradual collapse of the Apartheid regime by 1993.
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS)
Taking an idea from south African successful movement, the BDS campaign is a popular non-violent Palestinian-led boycott movement to force Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land.
The campaign borrowed much of its strategy from the anti-Apartheid movement, such as encouraging local authorities to break off trade relations with Israel as well as academic boycotts.
However, after having some success,the Israeli government labeled the movement an “existential threat” to the state’s existence, and urged lawmakers in allied countries to ban those who call for boycotts
2019: Amazon boycott
Sometimes, companies are also accused of using unethical business practices. In recent years, activists targeted the online giant, Amazon, for the treatment of its employees and for tax avoidance.
The company soon became disreputable for enforcing unattainable targets and firing employees for infractions, such as missing shifts for being sick.
2020:Boycott of China produced goods
Another boycott movement is growing that is targeting China over its treatment of its Muslim Uighur population.
China says that it is running training centers to retrain Uighurs to help them find jobs but according to Uighurs say that these are actually concentration camps where they are forced to drop their religious beliefs and cultural symbols.
According to Washington Post, some giant companies, such as Nike were having their products made in factories in China where Uighurs were being used as coerced labor.
This led to a boycott of companies believed to be sourcing products and raw materials from China.