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Why Boycotting Swiss Cheese is Not a Good Idea [In Light of Minarets Ban]

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More and more people are calling to boycott the Swiss industry to punish them for their vote against the minarets. So after the Danish cookies, we are told to give up the Swiss cheese, the Swiss chocolate with the purple cow, the Swiss watch and as proposed by a Turkish minister, we should close our Swiss bank accounts (where are we going to hide now?).

If you remember about a decade ago, people started to boycott goods from companies that supported Israel. The movement was later supported by sh. Yusuf Al Qardawi and other scholars and was expanded to include goods from the US and other countries that wages war against Islam. Amongst the goals of the boycott were:

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– to not financially participate in direct or indirect ways in the transgression against Muslims around the world

– to show that the Muslims have a purchasing power and can afflict financial damage

– to publicize the suffering of Muslims around the world and especially in Palestine

What? You are having a coffee at Starbucks?

Starbucks and McDonalds are probably the 2 most well-known companies that were included in the Boycott list. If you ask the average brother or sister why they are boycotting them, they will simply say that they don’t want to give money to the Israeli army. This fact has been emphasized by urban legends received by emails stating that entire revenue for one week of sales will be given to Israel. I am not denying the fact that there are some connections with the CEO of Starbuck or the McDonalds foundation, but this is far stretched from the direct sale of a coffee, and we can’t over-simplify it to 1 coffee = 1 bullet.

According to Monroe Friedman, who wrote “Consumer boycotts: effecting change through the marketplace and the media”, there are 2 strategies when calling for a boycott:

– Media-Oriented boycott: adverse effects in target’s image lead to desired change in target’s behavior

– Marketplace-oriented boycott: adverse effects on target’s image and sales lead to desired change in target’s behavior

As you can imagine, both have to go hand in hand for a campaign to be successful. Let me be clear: I am not advertising for those companies and it makes completely sense to me that I will never buy any good produced in the occupied land. However, the reality is that when you decide to not buy your coffee with a secret intention to boycott Starbucks has in reality no affect at all, as the media campaign faded long time back. We should also notice that even some PR were going on, this boycott had absolutely no effect on the ground. Why is that?

If you look back in history, you will see some very successful boycott campaigns that helped bring positive change in different parts of the world; the most famous being South Africa and the end of the Apartheid. The problem is that this is a common misconception. Boycott alone cannot influence any major policy unless it is accompanied by divestment and sanctions.

In France, a group is trying to push Carrefour, a major retail chain store, to not buy products made by Agrexco. This company based in Israel, exports 70% of the production of Israeli settlements, including those of the Jordan Valley, where 7,000 settlers have appropriated 95% of Palestinian agricultural land and control 98% of the water. To raise the awareness, the group is leading noisy but peaceful march in the stores all around the country to put the pressure on Carrefour. This is a very practical way to achieve boycott and divestment. Have we ever seen something like that in the US in an organized way?

The last ingredient missing is sanction. We are not talking about a sanction against a specific company, but a global sanction that will impact the entire country and force the government to review their policy. This can only be done if our own governments are behind it (like in the case of South Africa). In the US, it seems that it is almost impossible as the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans are pro-Israel (today and forever as Hilary Clinton loves to repeat to AIPAC). Ideally, we should have a strong lobby in place in Capitol Hill, but until then, what can we do? Inform! We should try to convince all the citizen of this country that what is going on there is wrong by showing facts on the ground. We should provoke a national debate and be cohesive in the message we want to convey.

To come back to the Swiss issue, as Tariq Ramadan pointed out in his article:

Switzerland’s Muslim citizens must hear the message: their fellow citizens fear and mistrust them. Time has come for them to become more involved and more active in society, and to stop acting only in self-defense on issues related to Islam.

When we call for boycotts, it is often an emotional call to show that we are not indifferent to the situation and this is our way to show our solidarity. This quick fix strategy has failed, as the recent boycott campaigns have shown. It is now time to think for a long term solution, and the best way is through constructive dialogue and reaching out to those who disagree with us.

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Nadim is an IT professional who loves to travel around the world. He grew up in France, lived in the US and now resides in Saudi Arabia. He is the former ameer of the AlMaghrib Institute student tribe in Bay Area, CA. You can follow him on Twitter @muslimms

77 Comments

77 Comments

  1. Abu Muawiyah

    December 7, 2009 at 12:34 AM

    Thank you for writing this.

    It is about time somebody did so, I have always been against the boycotting technique as I feel we lack evidence that the companies we are boycotting are directly linked to the oppression of Muslims and i do not think my boycotting Mcdonalds or Coca Cola is affecting anybody negatively except me.

    As I pointed out recently when somebody told me to boycott Swiss products, you are already boycotting Israeli, American and Danish products, the more countries you add to the list, the harder you make life for yourself and soon you’ll have to start farming your own crops. We should not be too quick to boycott and react emotionally to such events. Rather we should think up the most constructive manner of dealing with these issues. I definitely agree with Tariq Ramadan in his advice for dealing with this issue.

  2. MM Associates

    December 7, 2009 at 1:04 AM

    An excellent response, brother Nadim. Jazakh-Allah Khair for your wise input.

    I believe the proper way to react to the Swiss minaret issue is not through aggressive boycotts and angry pitchfork-wielding mobs, but rather with softness and in a way “that is better.” Let’s educate people. That is the proper solution. If we react in a harsh manner, we only help out the right-wing Islamophobes…It is a reaction they desperately want as it further enables them, so let’s not give it to them.

    -J.Hashmi

  3. Faulconbridge

    December 7, 2009 at 4:28 AM

    “Switzerland’s Muslim citizens must hear the message: their fellow citizens fear and mistrust them.”

    How many of the muslims in Switzerland are citizens? the majority are either Turkish guest-workers who out stayed their welcome in the opinion of the Swiss or war-refugees from a now-peaceful Bosnia.

  4. Ibrahim

    December 7, 2009 at 6:52 AM

    Assalaam alaykum.

    The issue of boycotting certain goods from the position of Muslims seems more to be affected by the historic boycott by Arab governments of companies that did business with the Zionist state. This boycott lasted many years, and even conflict arose between the Arab governments when, after Egypt concluded the so-called peace with the Zionist state, other Arab governments began to place sanctions on Egypt.

    At issue is not – in my mind – so much the boycott of certain goods or companies. What I find most disturbing are two major issues. For one, I wonder why we Muslims don’t boycott Muslim states for waging war and conflict between each other. It is so very disturbing to see the news peppered by the warring between and destruction among various Muslim “factions.” Then again, do Muslim manufacturing and production economies have such an impact on world consumer markets that anyone even cares about goods produced in Muslim countries?

    The second issue is that the ultimate losers in such boycotts may not necessarily be the targeted countries. Especially when we boycott goods in Muslim countries, the targets might very well be Muslim employees and staff of companies who have to reduce manpower in order to maintain cash flow. So who is really being hurt? So again, we end up hurting ourselves.

  5. Sohaib

    December 7, 2009 at 7:59 AM

    Salamualikum

    Good article. Very well written.

    Br. Sohaib

  6. Ameera

    December 7, 2009 at 8:04 AM

    A well researched piece, a welcome change from knee-jerk reactions. I’d just like to add one point that goes against boycotting goods. How many times have we noticed in our Muslim communities that we vociferously jump on to the boycotting bandwagon only to hop off one by one, sooner or later?

    If ten people start boycotting a soft-drink for its links to Israel, after sometime, you’ll notice the number dwindle to eight, seven and eventually, almost everyone’s back to the same brand of soft-drink. The old boycott becomes a taboo topic and people just look the other way when it’s mentioned, if ever. This is something I’ve observed, it’s not imaginary… and it’s in most of us, I’d say… even me. There must be a better, lasting way to effect change.

    • wahhabi mullah

      December 7, 2009 at 10:21 PM

      Using terms like “knee-jerk” reaction does not really help your cause. its the spin reflex reaction in an animal’s (human) body that protects it from burning its hand or its toe. Quick judgments are not always wrong. Stop using terms for tainting the “other” who is not like you.

      • Ameera

        December 7, 2009 at 10:54 PM

        “Knee-jerk reactions” was the only remotely *strong* word I used in my entire comment.

        However, as to what you say, I’m saying we need to reanalyze our current strategies, which is what this blog post is about as well. For example, the moment you hear the ban on the minarets, you decide you can’t finish that Swiss-produced food item in your fridge and throw it out the window. Sounds exxaggerated? It’s a true story.

        Instantaneous reactions aren’t always good. To protect you from a burn, oh sure, but in making decisions that have wide-ranging impact on a more gobal scale… I think not. Consultation, strategizing, organizing is the way to move forward. Otherwise, you have people running wild in the streets of Karachi, burning down shops and public, private property in “protest” of the Danish cartoon publication.

        The key question to ask is: What would the Prophet(pbuh) do? Also, look at how Allah(swt) describes the disbelievers in the Qur’an.

        “They plot and plan and Allah too plans but the Best of Planners is Allah.” (Al Anfaal : 30)

        • wahhabi mullah

          December 7, 2009 at 11:08 PM

          Protecting one from a burning fire through spinal reflex, of course, has long-term consequences. If that quick judgment fails in that very picosecond, a person might have to live his life while being crippled and suffering in agony and nihilism.

          Yes, throwing that cheese out would not help the cause. But continuously profiting the Swiss business ventures wont help the cause either. The best approach would be to utilize every means. And one of the means is to damage the economy. Of course it would be only successful if our “Muslim Ummah” had progressed enough intellectually that we could stop buying Swiss watches and resort to buying from some “Muslim” ghareewala (watchmaker) businessman.
          Anyways, I just did not find it intellectually sound when you used generalized and judgmental terms “knee-jerk” in your response.

          • Ameera

            December 8, 2009 at 3:50 AM

            You are entitled to your opinion, of course. The points you raised are being discussed below. That’s why I’m interested in seeing what the Shuyookh and/or those more learned than me on this comment thread have to say in this matter. My opinion could be right, could be wrong, but if something concrete is concluded, backed up by the Qur’an and Sunnah, that’s the thing to stick to.

  7. Yasir Qadhi

    December 7, 2009 at 8:28 AM

    Salam

    I have been speaking along similar lines for many years now. The concept of boycotting is a psychological placebo that has absolutely no impact whatsoever (if anything, it probably does more media damage to our image than economic harm to any company).

    If you wish to boycott Starbucks or McDonald’s, by all means do so. It’s probably better for your wallet and your health that you do! That’s your choice. But realize that it won’t help your Muslim brothers and sisters anywhere in the world.

    Giving up your vente skim mocha latte won’t affect the state of the Ummah. Let’s try something else.

    Yasir

    • IsmailBhai

      December 7, 2009 at 9:57 AM

      What do you suggest we try?

      • Siraaj Muhammad

        December 7, 2009 at 3:30 PM

        Dunkin’ Donuts Medium Coffee, Extra Cream, 4 Splendas, amazing combination.

        Siraaj

        • Ismail

          December 7, 2009 at 9:21 PM

          Brother Siraaj, I have three letters for you: L O L!

          Excellent response! I totally did not expect that, in the seriousness of the moment. Thanks for making me laugh. :-)

          Makes me miss Dunkin’ Donuts, though. Not too many around here in the DFW area.

          May Allaah bless you!

          Ismail

        • ummaasiyah

          December 12, 2009 at 10:07 AM

          An amazing combination…but almost a paradox considering the extra cream with 4 Splendas :P

          I say go for the extra cream and 4 sugars instead of sweetener! :D

    • docf

      December 29, 2009 at 11:52 AM

      Yasir Qadhi,

      Its not surprising you would shoot-down this effort while there is proof it is producing results. Startbucks released a news statement regarding the “rumors” of its support of Israel and how the boycott has had an impact.

      http://news.starbucks.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=200

      You were also asked what alternatives to the boycott you suggest and you don’t respond?

  8. MR

    December 7, 2009 at 10:12 AM

    It’s very simple but extremely hard to get done. There are a few Muslims who control vast amounts of one the world’s most important natural resource. Without it an entire country can collapse. If they were to stop distributing/selling this commodity to certain countries then it would take issues related to the Muslims more seriously.

    Unfortunately the last time that happened, the man with guts was visited by the “malaik ul mawt”.

  9. amad

    December 7, 2009 at 10:31 AM

    A bit tangential:

    Hilarious Jon Stewart:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-december-3-2009/oliver-s-travels—switzerland

    I am glad he gets it right… these small government-sanctioned Islamophobic acts are tiny steps towards Nazi-type ethnic cleansing…

  10. amad

    December 7, 2009 at 10:37 AM

    One type of boycott that would work is to target only one specific company, and pool energies towards that.

    I cannot think of a more iconic brand than Rolex, or perhaps Swiss watches in general, one of their most prolific exports. Switzerland is known for watches. Target Swiss watches, and you have targeted Swiss identity.

    Watches are not disposable products. They are replaceable and don’t require a life or habit-changing formula.

    In other words, I think this is one product where a specific boycott may work, and hurt a bit. On the other hand, watches, esp. Swiss watches, are generally expensive. So this may not be a Muslim masses type game. But if you get the richer portions of the Muslim society behind this, it will be a major blow.

    Other than that, I agree that most boycotts are futile. In fact, if one knows anything about corporate laws and systems in America, a corporate like Starbucks cannot donate its revenue to Israel or other similar acts. Its shareholders, including the CEO, are free to do what they wish with their money, but that is the same case with any other corporation.

    I do think we need to send a STRONG message to Switzerland. Because as I keep saying, the Islamophobia train has left the station, let’s try to slow it down!

    • Faisal

      December 7, 2009 at 11:58 AM

      I second brother Amads idea. I think we should collectively target Swiss watches.

    • MM Associates

      December 7, 2009 at 12:40 PM

      if it was in Italy, I am sure you would have chosen to boycott Ferrari… MashaAllah tabarakAllah :)

      -Nadim

    • Yusuf Smith

      December 7, 2009 at 1:16 PM

      As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

      Rolex are based in Geneva, which rejected the ban by the largest margin of any canton (province) in Switzerland.

      Swatch are based in Biel, which is in a canton which supported it.

    • Yasir Qadhi

      December 7, 2009 at 1:34 PM

      – The watch companies had nothing to do with the ban, period.

      – It would cause a very minuscule loss if somehow the Muslim world stopped buying Swiss watches; I have a feeling the vast majority of Muslims wouldn’t really be in the market for a Swiss watch anyway.

      – It would be well-nigh impossible to unite Muslims for such an ineffective boycott in the first place.

      – Assuming such a boycott were to take place, it wouldn’t affect the average Swiss resident, and THAT is the person whom we need to reach out to.

      – Instead of always showing our negative side (which should be done at times and places), why not reach out to show our positives? The perception of Islam and Muslims amonsgt the Swiss has to change, and the way to do that is not via boycott.

      – What’s your beef with Swiss watches anyway? Switzerland is to watches what Japan is to cars (typed while wearing my Swiss TagHeuer ticking away… :) !)

      • amad

        December 7, 2009 at 1:40 PM

        Thanks for mentioning the TagHeuer… now we can expect a new tangent on why and how shaykhs make so much money… shall I begin?? ;)

        • Yasir Qadhi

          December 7, 2009 at 1:46 PM

          Lol… I wish man!

          That is one watch I cannot afford. It was a gift.

          • Ibn AbuAisha

            December 7, 2009 at 5:34 PM

            Talking about the gift, how was the Peace Conference in Mumbai this year Shaykhana? I sooo wish they aired some portions of it on PeaceTV. Did you get to do some real cool ads for PeaceTV in other exotic bollywood locations ;) ?

      • amad

        December 7, 2009 at 1:46 PM

        On a serious note, there is a reason why I mentioned watches, as you affirmed in your last sentence. It isn’t about the watch companies, it is about Switzerland’s brand and what would pain them most. And really, Rolex can afford a few lost watches… and rich companies do make the most noise. Usually governments react quickly when businesses are at stake, esp. the bread and butter ones.

        General boycotts are duds. Habit-changing boycotts won’t work. My point was that IF any boycott is to work, it will have to be a very targeted and strategically chosen brand/item.

        I do understand and agree with the positive momentum theory. But, I think a little negative pressure may help too.

        • Siraaj Muhammad

          December 7, 2009 at 3:32 PM

          I’ve been boycotting swiss watches since my birth since I can’t afford ’em anyway :)

          Siraaj

        • MM Associates

          December 7, 2009 at 3:43 PM

          I think targeting a specific brand just because they happened to be in the country where the issue happened is almost a form a “racism”. If they have nothing to do with it, why do they have to suffer for the acts of their compatriots?

          Now, if you really really insist to boycott something, you should target the companies who financially supported this campaign. I highly recommend the book “Consumer boycotts: effecting change through the marketplace and the media” by Monroe Friedman on this topic to create an effective campaign. You can read some excerpts here

          -Nadim

          • MM Associates

            December 7, 2009 at 7:57 PM

            Another great post, brother Nadim.

            I agree with you that it is almost racist. As if all Swiss are the same and collectively to blame!

            -J.Hashmi

          • AsimG

            December 7, 2009 at 8:16 PM

            How is that racist?

            PR is part of every major corporation and if they do not agree with the vote, then they should publicly disassociate themselves from it as well as condemn it.

            If someone went blindly after a Swiss individual for the vote, then that’s a different story.

      • Uthman

        December 7, 2009 at 7:30 PM

        JazakAllah khair akh Nadim for an insighful article. I guess it really depends on time and place. Last year when I went to Saudi Arabia, I noticed on every shelf they had written “boycott Danish products”. To add insult to injury, they left those shelves empty and did not even bother putting other stuff there. Wether it was intentional or not, the message must have hit home to any Dane strolling around. :)….. If I am not mistaken the ban is still in place.

        One more thing I noticed that a Starbucks Coffee here cost around 2-3 dollars. The price in Saudi Arabia was inflated 3 times what you get here. I wonder why?

        I dont know if the ban the Saudis have implemeted is effective or not. But imagining that all Danish goods are boycotted and all other Anti-Muslim European country’s goods are boycotted, I think a good amount of damage would be done. And the financial crisis would aggravate the situation for them.

        So any financial base, in the muslim world, where these buisnesses are operating and generating revenues, would be a prime place to implement such a boycott. Is that a correct approach?

        • MM Associates

          December 7, 2009 at 7:36 PM

          Wa iyyak!

          Can you explain what is the objective for boycotting Danish goods? Don’t you think that the Danish people will hate the Muslims even more?

          • Uthman

            December 7, 2009 at 7:49 PM

            To hurt them! And show disapproval! The objective would not be for them to love us. Because some of them dont love us anyway and why would they?

            The expectation is to cause them to understand what they did wrong and why. They have to realize that this is not acceptable to us.

            Obviously, if they bash a hornets nest they should be bitten.

          • wahhabi mullah

            December 13, 2009 at 2:19 PM

            Why do we care so much whether people hate us or not? Why not think if Allah will hate us or no rather than focussing on the Danish folk?

  11. Art Awan

    December 7, 2009 at 11:36 AM

    Salam,

    Brother Nadim i very much enjoyed reading your article and i am firm believer in dialogue and a equally firm against knee-jerk confrontational reactions.

    It is becoming quite clear to the majority of aware brothers and sisters that our part methods of confrontation have done nothing but alienate from society .

    The main problem still remains and that is what methods of dialogue to we adopt? how do we dialogue with in order to get the best response/ results?

    i do not have the answers to these questions but i do have a suggestion and that is use the methods that have worked well for other political lobbies in the UK.

    Two of the strongest lobbies here are the Conservative friends of Israel (CFI) and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI).

    Both of these Lobbies are extremely powerful and extremely effective, what is there secret? Simply use each and every legal avenue/route possible in highlight their is point/view.

    e.g Press complaints , equal rights law. Freedom laws are just name a few, using these aswell as other rules and laws these 2 lobbies have been able to control newspapers (such as the Guardian, the liberal paper here) as well as government policies.

    This same method is applied by these lobbies in other major parties in America and most of the European countries.

  12. cinna

    December 7, 2009 at 12:04 PM

    actually i have been avoiding mostly all cheeses from europe and in US due to questionable rennet and other enzymes source. now i have one more reason not to consume cheese.

  13. hs

    December 7, 2009 at 12:53 PM

    Great points Br. Nadim, particularly the Carrefour story – jazakum Allah khairan!

    There are a few US (mainly non-Muslim) initiatives worth mentioning:

    http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?list=type&type=203

    http://usacbi.wordpress.com/

  14. Yusuf Smith

    December 7, 2009 at 1:09 PM

    As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    I almost never drink Starbucks coffee anyway, simply because it doesn’t taste of anything. If you order a latte and put sugar in it and cinnamon on the top, it will taste like spicy, sweet, warm milk.

    However, I do think that Muslims are very quick to jump to calling for boycotts every time Muslims are offended anywhere. I especially think that boycotting Danish goods after the cartoon affair was stupid — people were boycotting a whole country over something that was printed in one of its nastier newspapers, a bit like boycotting the UK over something the Daily Mail or Sun does. It just did not make sense. Some Muslims also don’t understand that censorship of the press just doesn’t go on in Europe.

    On top of that, many of these companies make halal goods for export to Muslim countries, and if their whole customer base turns against them because of something entirely beyond their control, they will think twice about continuing production. The main focus of that boycott was a food company (which produces Lurpak butter among other things) which has plants in Sweden and the UK as a result of acquisitions and mergers, and produces food (including halal food) in other countries, including Poland. They are entirely separate from the newspaper which published the cartoons originally, even though they may advertise with them.

    I do not believe in boycotts, except in the case of countries whose very existence is an affront to Islam (e.g. Israel) and to those where the situation for Muslims is absolutely dire. I suggested that we boycott France after the hijab ban (and in light of the rampant discrimination and brutality that goes on there) and was told that France was basically too big a fish. The same is probably true of India, even during the BJP era where Muslims were being murdered on the highways and in orchestrated riots.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      December 7, 2009 at 3:34 PM

      Is it just me, or does Starbucks coffee taste like an ashtray, even after adding liberal amounts of cream and sugar? I never quite got that, but I’ll give them this – it’s the only coffee that really wakes me up!

      Siraaj

      • ilmQuest

        December 7, 2009 at 4:54 PM

        No I can attest to that as well. Starbucks coffee is so overrated. Even Tim Hortons has better coffee.

    • MM Associates

      December 7, 2009 at 5:23 PM

      Talking about France, do you remember when the American media boycotted French goods and renamed French Fries to ‘Freedom’ Fries just because they were against the war in Iraq? Let me tell you that this has created the exact opposite results and the French were hating the Americans even more. Don’t think you can get a change with hate or rejection… As we say in French, “la haine engendre la haine” (hate engenders hate)

      -Nadim

      • AsimG

        December 7, 2009 at 7:57 PM

        An inappropriate example.
        The UN, Amnesty International, countless other groups and even the Swiss government were against the ban.
        We are speaking out against hate, not mocking the Swiss for not supporting a war.

        Also brother, as I’m sure you know, the French are not known for “peaceful” marches.
        Is there any other Western country that shuts down for a day because of protests and marches?

      • MM Associates

        December 7, 2009 at 7:58 PM

        You’re on a roll, bro Nadim.

        -J.Hashmi

  15. AsimG

    December 7, 2009 at 7:51 PM

    Asalaamu alaykum,

    An interesting article, but one that ignores many realities.

    1. The Swiss have explicitly stated that they FEAR the economic ramifications of such a vote. They have cited Danish boycott to substantiate these fears.

    2. I disagree with Shaykh Yasir’s contention that a boycott is simply a psychological placebo.
    Rather it is a passive action that requires little to no effort and…

    3. A boycott against the Swiss can be effective! If you look at corporations listed on the Israeli boycott list, such as McDonald’s and Starbuck’s, neither are HQ’d in Israel nor do they give any money to Israel.
    The boycott is based on loose connections and rumors and somehow has spread like wildfire.
    (And even then, both companies have made statement after statement disassociating themselves from Israel. Starbucks has an entire page page on their website dedicated to this)
    Actual Israeli companies HAVE been affected by the boycott, but since they’ve been boycotted from inception, their ability to grow is hampered rather than actual loss in profit.
    We know the major Swiss companies and our boycott against their goods can cause significant losses.

    4. IT’S NOT THAT HARD TO BOYCOTT THE SWISS! Wallahi, you will be fine without eating Swiss chocolate. You won’t have to be “growing your own crops” anytime soon.

    5. If you are going to say don’t boycott, then give the Muslims another option. You can’t just say, oh go approach those swiss and tell them about Islam.
    I speak English and broken Urdu (well really hyderbadi, haha), how am I going to find let alone talk to the swiss?
    What are your ideas for engagement with Swiss citizens? Why not list some organizations that are doing just that?

    I understand the Muslim craze over boycotts is a bit over the top, but dismissing boycotts all together unless we have sanctions is just as ludicrous.

    While we sit here writing articles claiming boycotts will be ineffective, major Muslim groups, leaders and even filmmakers are taking a stand against hate, making international headlines and affirming the fear of losing money at a very large scale.

    Finally, it is very likely the minaret ban will be overturned by the EU:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/30/ap/world/main5833813.shtml

    Therefore, it is important that we as Muslims speak out now and take this opportunity to flush out possible future bigoted votes and policies. Let them know we as Muslims will not stand for such hate and while our leaders are useless we can still provide tangible consequences to those that sponsor hate.

    If you can’t stop eating Butterfingers for a couple weeks, then at least contact major Swiss companies and ask them to make a public statement disassociating themselves from the vote and condemning it.

    This will at least further ostracize those that hate.

    • Osman

      December 7, 2009 at 8:33 PM

      Boycotting them will only re-enforce negative stereotypes of Muslims. Even if somehow the boycott leads to lifting the ban on minarattes (which I highly doubt it will), it will just make worsen the reputation of Muslims and Switzerland.

      I like Shaik Yasir Quadi’s response’s in this thread. Why do we always try to show our “bad side?” Why not instead be better role models in society to slowly lift away the negative stereotypes of Muslims?

      • AsimG

        December 7, 2009 at 8:41 PM

        But how is boycotting showing our bad side?
        Are we taking to the streets and burning Swiss flags?

        Yes dialog is needed, but a strong message that we will not tolerate bigotry is as well.
        Is there any other religious group that would NOT call for a boycott of Swiss products after such a ban?

        I think we have been so conditioned in America to be careful with our responses we’ve even allowed something as peaceful as boycott to be frowned upon

        • Osman

          December 7, 2009 at 8:46 PM

          Because Minarattes are not that big of a deal.

          What is the point of increasing tensions over something like this.

  16. AsimG

    December 7, 2009 at 8:05 PM

    You want real a company to boycott?

    Try Nestle:
    A number of Swiss companies, such as engineering group ABB Ltd. and food maker Nestlé SA, have large interests in Muslim countries. Nestlé has about 50 factories in the Muslim world and is the WORLD’S LARGEST PRODUCER OF HALAL food, or food permissible under Islamic law. Nestlé has recently begun expanding its halal business in Europe, to cater to the Continent’s growing Muslim population. “Nestlé cannot be associated with any form of discrimination,” the company said.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125959880244169871.html

    Here you go:

    http://www.nestleusa.com/Public/ContactUs.aspx

    (Anyone else who is criticizing the boycott should at least offer another plan of action or keep silent)

    • MM Associates

      December 7, 2009 at 9:26 PM

      If you really want to use the boycott as a way to protest, only those companies who are against Muslims should be boycotted. Choosing a random company just for the sake of it won’t help, and people won’t even understand why they are doing it.

      Do you know any Swiss company that is against Muslims?

      -Nadim

      • AsimG

        December 7, 2009 at 10:11 PM

        ^I don’t know who is for or who is against and so threatening a boycott against the largest company until they categorically denounce the ban seems to be the best option.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      December 8, 2009 at 2:05 AM

      So the basic idea is if you take away our minarets due to deep-seated xenophobia, we’ll boycott you until we get our minarets back? But the minarets are symbolic, the problem is the xenophobia, not the minarets – if I understand this all correctly, once the minarets are no longer banned, then we can no longer ban / boycott them – does that even make sense?

      With issues like these, we have to remember, the minaret is not the issue, it merely symbolizes the real problem, and it’s the real problem that needs solving – xenophobia. In order for Muslims to “fight back”, they need power, and the different types of power they can obtain and wield are another subject of debate with everyone having their own nuance on how far forward or how scaled back we can or should be.

      If you want to know what you can do, I personally think the best thing that you can do, that is within your power to do (besides making du’aa) is to do your part and be an ethical, good charactered, good natured practicing Muslim, one who takes care of himself, is good to his parents, family, neighbors, kids, spouses, and so on – that example will do more not only for yourself, but to combat xenophobia and build credit in the eyes of those who don’t know which way to swing.

      Your practice can be the first impression on someone who may one day turn out to be someone who either stands up for Muslims or greatly harms them, so don’t take this advice for granted.

      Siraaj

  17. Siraaj Muhammad

    December 8, 2009 at 1:51 AM

    #1 reason boycotting swiss cheese is a bad idea – not all of it is really swiss or originating in swizterland.

    Siraaj

  18. atheistdebater

    December 9, 2009 at 12:30 AM

    The minaret ban was a dumb idea. Purely symbolic political acts usually are. One must pick one’s “battles” wisely.

    Then again, I am not Swiss, so I do not know why the majority of them voted for the ban. I am sure the voters, for and against, were polled for their reasons. What did they say? Once you know their reasoning, you can begin the dialogue that might change their minds. If the holes in their reasoning are like the holes in Swiss cheese, direct their attention to those holes. It is not hard to communicate with the Swiss. Every Swiss person speaks at least four languages (German, French, Italian and a native Swiss dialect, whose name I forget). Just go on the internet, and offer to talk to any Swiss person who is interested. Keep it civil. Yelling at each other accomplishes little.

    If you want to change the Swiss peoples’ minds about Muslims, my suspicion is the best way would be to shame them. Make them feel like they have shown an ugly side of themselves, which is counter to a country that is trying to grow in international stature. If the Swiss come to be embarrassed by their ban, which targets a small minority of their society, they will probably then eventually decide the minaret ban is bad for their image, and vote to repeal it sometime in the future.

    Showing economic influence and righteous indignation can have a positive impact. The Swiss Muslims, and their Swiss non-Muslim supporters, should lead the way. Outside interference should be limited to showing economic and ideological support. Too much outside interference could lead to a xenophobic backlash and more Swiss nationalist defiance. Target any boycotts carefully. Nobody likes to feel unfairly bullied.

    MM Associates, I like your quote, “la haine engendre la haine.” That is so true.

  19. Syed J

    December 9, 2009 at 9:38 AM

    Wa alaikum as Salaam Br. AsimG.

    And Assalam alaikum all. Yes, i do agree with what Br.AsimG mentioned at:

    AsimG
    December 7, 2009 • 7:51 pm

    Class act. Insha Allah.

    Jazak Allah Khair. All.

  20. Swarth Moor

    December 9, 2009 at 1:42 PM

    I put this up elsewhere, but it is a point many probably don’t know or considered:

    Let’s throw this into the mix. It occured to me a little while ago that, technically speaking (from a Shari`ah perspective) parts of Switzerland is actually considered Muslim territory (the Muslims ruled parts of Switzerland). This is from Wiki (no Wiki is not a source for learning Fiqh rulings, but it does say something interesting on the history):

    “In the 10th century, Arabs and Berbers from their Mediterranean Fraxinet base settled in the Valais for a few decades.[5] They occupied the Great St. Bernard Pass and even managed to reach as far as St. Gallen to the north and Raetia in the east.

    In the confused conditions of the 9-10th centuries, parts of what is now Switzerland were threatened by “Saracens,” Muslim colonists. Their precise origin and initial purpose remains a mystery, but they moved from a base in Provence, in southern France, towards northern Italy, seizing the western Alpine passes. In the east they went as far as Chur and almost reached St. Gallen, before withdrawing west again.”

    That puts this discussion in a whole new light, given that some of the lands are actually part of Darul-Islam.

  21. Abu Rumaisa

    December 9, 2009 at 3:18 PM

    Boycotts do work as long it’s organised well. Remember the “Save Darfur” campaign, anyone doing business in Sudan was targeted & had to pull out of the country. Sudan had to rethink it’s strategy when it started to hurt it’s pockets.

  22. atheistdebater

    December 9, 2009 at 10:03 PM

    Swarth Moor,

    Are you not confirming the fears of Swiss nationalists, that Muslim immigration should be discouraged, because it is a threat to Swiss national identity? Why would the people of any non-Muslim country welcome or tolerate Muslim immigrants if it meant their hospitality would be repaid by having their native land declared part of Darul-Islam for all eternity?

    Thanks for the warning. I will remember not to invite a Muslim to my next party. I would hate to find-out, the next day, that the Muslim guest has declared my bathroom part of Darul-Islam, and is refusing to leave.

    Any Swiss person who voted against the minaret ban, reading your comment, might decide s/he had made a mistake.

  23. Hicham Maged

    December 10, 2009 at 3:25 AM

    I do not find the calls for boycotting swiss products a good idea by any means. What happened requires understanding not boycotting

    If we -Muslims- want people to understand us well, we are called to understand them too and this cannot happen unless a constrcutive dialouge takes places as you mentioned at the end of your post.

    Neither banning nor boycotting shall solve problems; my two cents!

  24. UmA

    December 12, 2009 at 8:38 AM

    Hear the one about the trendy Swiss shoe shop owner who erected a minaret on his premises? It’s true!

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6954014.ece

    Muslim matters should interview and commend this man.

  25. GreaterJihad

    December 12, 2009 at 11:12 AM

    Why would the Swiss be afraid of Muslims? From their point of view, they see Islam not as conceived by the Prophet, but by the extremists, who believe Islam is a totalitarian political ideology, requiring blind allegiance to clerical authority, that Islam commands the hating and slaying of infidel kuffar, that suicide terrorism is lawful in Islam, and that women are subjugated to men. Unfortunately, there are more than enough Muslims to fit the stereotype, so Geert Wilders is able to use jihadi terrorism against the community as a whole. We need to realize that the most dangerous thing to this Ummah is its internal Kharijite rebellion. These Muslim rebels take their tactics and ideology from Marx not Muhammad. Suicide bombing was a tactic of Communist terrorists before radical groups Islamized it. Al-Qaeda is the “vanguard” of Lenin, and not Islam.

    Muslims need to learn Arabic and Islamic studies for themselves, then they can see who is twisting the religion for political gain!

    http://www.ammanmessage.com

    http://www.acommonword.com

    Is Islam an ideology or a religion?

    http://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/articles/islam_religion_or_ideology/

    Is suicide bombing lawful in Islam?

    http://www.ihsanic-intelligence.com/

    • greentea

      December 21, 2009 at 12:07 PM

      well written

  26. Swarth Moor

    December 13, 2009 at 11:09 AM

    GJ,

    The Swiss/other Europeans do not only fear (quasi) Islamic terrorism. This ISN’T the entire argument the anti-Muslim bigots are making. Terrorism is more of an inconvenience/security issue. Al-Qaidah is not likely to overthrow European governments and institute their nihilistic ideology. There is another, and greater, concern the white/European nationalists have about Islam–and it is a legitimate concern (from their kufri perspective). European civilzation is dying. It’s population is ageing and shrinking. In Europe, you have empty wombs, feminist on ‘roids, and a population of gelded metrosexual males. The white (straight) male is under a steady assault by the Frankfurt School trained media and court system. The Europeans have lost virtually all confidence in their civilization. They have abandoned their churches, and it was Christianity/Christiandom, afterall, that gave Europeans their identity. Europe isn’t a “continent” but simply a geo-religious entity that defined itself in opposition to Islam. Simply look (or don’t look) at its modern “art” or “literature.” It is clear that European culture has become decadent and exhausted–and the Europeans have become a spoiled and aimless people.

    Juxtapose Euro secular/atheist culture with Islam. The Muslims today, praise Allah, in spite of all the internal and external conflicts are a people of hope. Muslims are again gaining confidence in their culture. Muslims are HAVING BABIES. Muslims who came to the West begging for acceptance a generation ago are now seen as the “Uncle Toms” that they were/are. In-sha’ Allah as Muslims demand to learn traditional Islamic knowledge, they will INTELLECTUALLY challenge Europe to its fetid core. This will generate even more confidence in the hearts of Muslims, and God-willing attract more native Europeans to Islam, for European philosophy/”culture” simpy can’t fill the huge void that is in their empty lives. The right wing anti-Muslim bigots know this–they know that they already lost the culture war to the cultural Marxists–and now they fear that their societies will be supplanted by a civilization that has the zeal and vigor that the white guys simply can’t muster.

    • Furqan

      December 16, 2009 at 12:34 PM

      I am glad you acknowledge that Al-Qaeda has a “nihilistic” ideology. Too bad our scholars are too afraid to challenge it head on. Are they afraid the sharp tongue of Adam Ghadan will strike them just as the sharp tongue of Awlaki struck Towfiq Choudry?

  27. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

  28. Ty

    December 20, 2009 at 5:42 PM

    The fact of the matter is that swiss cheese is not made in Switzerland. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_Swiss_cheese_made_in_Switzerland

  29. LeighAnn

    December 21, 2009 at 9:13 PM

    McD’s isn’t halal anyway. Why would you eat there unless you had too? Terrible for your health too.

    Great entry though.

  30. Abu Talhah

    December 24, 2009 at 9:14 PM

    Imam An-Nawawi would not even eat the fish from the river that had stolen food thrown into it by the Sutan. Even if all the boycotts did was stop one bullet from being loaded in an Israeli gun, then they would be worth it. The cowards in the West who criticize boycotts need to take from the pious predecessors on matters of zuhd and sadaqah before they tart criticizing anyone for boycotting something. How can you buy a luxury item which is partially used to oppress your brother or sister? Wallahi this Ummah will not rise again until the Muslims feel for each other.

    Our brothers and sisters in Filistine and elsewhere sit in prison because they fought against tyranny, and you will not give up a coke or a coffee? Fear Allah.

    Ibn an-Nuhaas raheemahullaah states:

    “If they are oppressed then the Muslims need to help them. Imam Abu Bakr bin al Arabi says: ‘Except if the Muslims are oppressed. In that case we need to secure their release until not a single eye among us blinks (even if we all die) or we spend all of our wealth in the process.’ These are the opinions of Malik and all the scholars. How unfortunate is it to see today our brothers left in the prisons of the enemy while our treasuries are full of money and we are full of strength.”

    This is the ruling if there is a single Muslim POW, so what about thousands? It is wajib upon the entire ummah even if they all die and all of their money is spent. And you will not give up a coke, some coffee, and some cheese?

    • Osman

      December 24, 2009 at 11:18 PM

      How many Muslim’s have died due to lack of Minarattes? Why are we so hostile with everything. We need to have the appropriate responses to different actions and not group everything together.

      • Abu Talhah

        December 25, 2009 at 7:21 AM

        The comment was more directed at the other comments on this page than the article. The solution for the Swiss Muslims is to leave that country. If you cannot publicly manifest your deen then it is haraam for you to be in that location outside of a few exceptions.

  31. sadia

    December 30, 2009 at 10:53 PM

    Assalamu Alaykum

    Regarding the Israeli boycott specifically, for me it isnt just so much an issue of inflicting economic damage on the companies to make them stop..

    As a Muslim, am I not to believe that I should want care for my brother as I want for myself. And also that I am responsible not just for how I earn my wealth, but also how I spend it, and will one day soon be called to account for these matters when I stand before Allah SWT. So knowing this, how can I intentionally give my money to companies who openly profess to actively support Israel by pumping millions of dollars every year to strengthen the Israel’s economy and military, and even to support and promote the establishment of new illegal Israeli settlements on lands stolen from Palestian families. I would never give my business to a company that I knew would turn around and direct a part of its profits to a third party that is intent on targetting my loved ones. How then can I turn a blind on on the rest of my brothers and sisters and where is my faith when I stop even trying to pretend that I want for them as I want for myself

    For me this is what it comes down to. My attempts to boycott companies like Coca Cola, Nestle, McDonalds might not change the world. They might not bring Israel down on its knees. They might not even save the life of a single brother or sister of mine. But perhaps, just perhaps, they will help me to stand with a little bit less shame on the Day I am called before my Lord, the Lord of all my oppressed brothers and sisters, when I am asked of how I earnt my wealth and how I spent it

    and Allah SWT knows best

  32. TheShishya

    January 1, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    The article reminds me of a practice among a sect of muslims i found out in the Arabian Gulf to assist in job hunting and making solicitations for only “muslims” and particularly for muslims belonging to their “group” in major companies. More than it being illegitimate and unappreciable, such practices can only leave a black mark on the muslim community as being unaffable and to be kept at a distance.

    Guess this practice came up in air during the Kuwait war when muslims explicitly were denied jobs in companies. But what matters now is, the thing gained momentum to the height that they fail to identify between his non muslim neighbor and a hijabi on the road.

    Just pointed out an incident..

    Btw, good article..

  33. One Muslim

    January 5, 2010 at 1:43 AM

    masha’Allah, another excuse for people who don’t want to give up even Starbucks for the sake of Allah. It cannot be denied that if all the Muslims were to boycott Israeli products they would feel a loss; in the same way, if all the Muslims were to carry on buying their products they would not lose anything.

    Israel is the country who murder our brothers and sisters on a daily basis yet people against the boycott feel perfectly at ease when handing over their money to them all for a cheap burger at McDonalds. The whole world may be buying from them but on the Day of Judgement, Allah will ask you about what you did no matter what it was. Boycotting the products of those who are oppressing the Muslims is fardh on us.

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