The Associated Press
Published: April 1, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: A supermarket chain in mainly Muslim Malaysia has marked Dutch products with red labels, giving customers the option of boycotting them to protest an anti-Islam movie by a Dutch lawmaker.
“I think as a Muslim, we have to take a stand,” Ameer Ali Mydin, managing director of Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd., told The Associated Press on Tuesday, adding that 40 of his stores would take part in the nationwide campaign.
Supermarkets would put up notices and posters to explain the protest and allow customers to choose whether to buy Dutch products, Ameer said. Mydin buys 60 million ringgit (US$18.8 million; €11.9 million) worth of Dutch goods a year, from dairy and cosmetics to electronics.
Several other Malaysian groups have also called on Muslims to boycott Dutch goods, saying the 15-minute movie by lawmaker Geert Wilders creates unnecessary tensions and misleads viewers to link Islam and violence.
About 20 people protested outside the Dutch ambassador’s residence Tuesday, carrying banners that read “Islam is peace” and shouting “Allah is great.”
“We want to tell the world, ‘Don’t simply criticize Islam.’ They should respect Muslim people,” said Marzuki Yahya, an official from the ruling United Malay National Organization, which organized the rally.
“The government of Holland should apologize and take full responsibility,” he said.
Dutch ambassador Lody Embrechts said the film’s release was regrettable but called on people to refrain from boycotting Dutch goods and engage in dialogue instead.
“The film indeed equates Islam with violence. The Dutch government rejects that interpretation,” he told the AP. “The Dutch government really regrets that Mr. Wilders produced this movie … to cause offense.”
Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry has also strongly condemned the film as disrespectful and insensitive. Some 60 percent of the country’s 27 million people are Muslims.
The film, titled “Fitna,” or “ordeal” in Arabic, was posted online Thursday. Though it was removed from the site, LiveLeak.com, on Friday, it has since been available on other file-sharing sites.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s religious council ruled late Monday that the movie was an insult to Islam, and urged Muslims to protest by boycotting Dutch products.