Muslim shops ban Israeli produce in Palestine protest

Exclusive: Deborah Anderson

29 Aug 2010

Asian shopkeepers in one of the biggest Muslim areas in Scotland are backing a boycott of Israeli produce.

In a move that has worried Jewish groups, Muslim families who own stores in Glasgow”s south side are refusing to stock Israeli goods in protest at Israel”s West Bank settlements and policy towards Palestinians.

Around 30 stores in Muslim communities in Pollokshields, Pollokshaws and Govanhill are supporting the drive and yesterday campaigners took to the streets to applaud shopkeepers who are no longer stocking Israeli products.

The campaigners, who toured stores handing out flyers to shoppers, say shops which continue to stock Israeli goods will be “named and shamed”.

Led by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Friends of Al Aqsa Glasgow, many stores in the area are now displaying posters declaring “No Israeli Produce sold here”.

Organisers say that following its success in Glasgow, the campaign is expected to be rolled out across the country.

The focus of the boycott is fruit such as dates, traditonally eaten by Muslims in the holy month of Ramadan. Some of the dates sent to the UK are produced on highly contentious Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley.

Saddaqat Khan, of Friends of Al Aqsa, Glasgow, said: “Many Muslims are unaware of this and unwittingly purchase Israeli dates, thereby supporting the Israeli economy.”

Campaigners, some draped in the Palestinian flag, held a day of action in Allison Street in Govanhill to target store owners and customers.

Rizwan Khan, who owns Rizwan stores on Allison Street, dumped a box of dates after being told of their origin and is supporting the boycott. He said: “I have been wary of the dates I buy, but had been stocking Jordan Valley dates thinking these were safe.”

Customer Isahaq Ali, 50, said: “I know what to look out for when buying these items and wouldn”t give stores who stock them my custom.”

However, Edward Isaacs, president of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, said: “We have excellent relations in the Jewish Community with our Muslim friends and we think that bringing Middle East politics into the Glasgow sphere to this extent is not a good idea. Everyone is entitled to have their views on the Middle East, but we don”t think a boycott is the correct way to advance their political process.”

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