Pakistan Vows To Boycott French-Products; Ends Up Boycotting Its Own Goods

France has been making headlines after it decided to republish controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, which has been slammed by Muslim countries around the world. 

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The outrage led to several violent attacks including the beheading of a French teacher, Samuel Paty, in Paris for allegedly showing controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammad in one of his classes.

On October 29, a terrorist knife attack killed three people in the city of Nice in France. Although the French police have not suggested a motive for the Nice attack, it was followed after French President Emmanuel Macron defended the publication of the controversial cartoons.

Macron & Pakistan PM Imran Khan

“If we are attacked once again it is for the values which are ours: freedom, for the possibility on our soil to believe freely and not to give in to any spirit of terror,” Macron said after visiting Nice. “I say it with great clarity once again today: we won’t surrender anything.”

Pakistan and Turkey have been leading the tussle calling for a boycott of French goods. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has gone all out against Macron saying:

“The person in charge of France has lost his way. He goes on about Erdogan all day. Look at yourself first and where you are going…he is a case and he really must be checked up.” Erdogan called for a boycott of French goods and encouraged the Turkish citizens to completely shun them.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan also criticized Macron saying that he has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists.

“Sadly, President Macron has chosen to deliberately provoke Muslims, incl his own citizens through encouraging the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam & our Prophet PBUH.

However, things may have gone the wrong way in Pakistan. While netizens from Muslim countries trended hashtags including #BoycottFrenchProducts in English and the Arabic #NeverTheProphet, calling for a boycott of products, it may end up harming some Pakistani products.

One example is of a brand called Lu biscuits, that netizens have called to boycott misidentifying the Pakistani biscuits as a French product.

According to a BBC report, the Lu brand was registered under a French trademark. But in 2007, an American company, Kraft Foods, bought it from France. The report added that in 2012, Kraft Foods decided to split its company into two and formed a new company called Mondelez International, which now handles the entire international business of biscuits and chocolates. 

Continental Biscuits Limited (CBL), a Pakistani company, is a joint venture with Mondelez International with a shareholding of 50.5% and 49.5% respectively. 

Amid calls for the boycott, the company has issued a statement clarifying that the company is managed and operated by Pakistanis with a majority Pakistani shareholding.

“We would like to unequivocally state that CBL and LU biscuits – produced in Pakistan – have NO CONNECTIONS with, and NO OWNERSHIP by any French company NOR France,” it said in a statement on its website. 

“CBL vehemently condemns the recent blasphemous act in France, against our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),” the statement added.

Founder and Managing Director of CBL Hasan Ali Khan told BBC: “If the people boycotting the product try a little harder to find out the truth, they will realize that the boycott is hurting Pakistan, not France.”

Following the outrage in Pakistan and other Muslim countries, Marine Le Pen, French politician and lawyer serving as President of the National Rally political party tweeted against the “ultra-violent demonstrations” calling for a “moratorium on immigration” from Pakistan and Bangladesh in the name of national security. 

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