Jakarta – Hundreds of people calling themselves the East Java Defend Palestine Coalition descended on McDonalds and KFC fast food restaurants on Jalan Basuki Rahmat in the provincial capital of Surabaya on Friday November 17.
The protesters, who wore all white clothing and carried Palestinian flags, initially went to the State Grahadi Building (the governor's office) on Jalan Gubernur Suryo.
They then held a long-march towards the McDonald's and KFC outlets which are located not far from Burger King. As a consequence, traffic flow on Jalan Basuki Rahmat also became congested.
"We ask those who are eating at McD and KFC to leave, if you don't leave then we will remove you", said one of the speakers from the protesters' command vehicle.
A number of customers and employees from the two outlets could then be observed exiting the buildings. The outlets then closed temporarily. Several police officers were also on guard at the entrances so the demonstrations would not force their way in.
Furthermore, continued the speaker, the law on the consumption of McDonald's and KFC products is that it is haram (forbidden under Islamic Law). This is in accordance with a fatwa (edict) issued by the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI).
Action coordinator M Taufik said that the action is in accordance with the Indonesian Constitution, namely efforts to abolish colonialism in the world.
"This is a form of concrete action where the state is equally committed to opposing the slaughter or Israeli Zionist aggression", said Taufik.
The concrete action referred to by Taufik is forcing the McDonald's, KFC and Burger King outlets on Jalan Basuki Rahmat to close temporarily until Israel ends its aggression in Gaza.
"These fast food [outlets] are suspected of being affiliated with the Israeli Zionist state. We are conveying the demand that they close until the attacks by Israel stop", he said.
The East Java Defend Palestine Coalition then met with the McDonald's, KFC and Burger King management and handed over the demands that must be agreed to, one of which was the outlets willingness to close temporarily until Israel's attacks stop.
The protesters also claimed they would conduct seeps over the next week to monitor whether the outlets follow the demand to close temporarily, which will also include a mini-market that sells products affiliated with Israel.
"The East Java Coalition has informed the police of the one week to conduct sweeps", they said.
They are asking Widodo to issue a presidential regulation (Perpres) prohibiting the circulation of products from companies affiliated with Israel.
Speaking to journalists after the action, the KFC management declined to comment, saying only that they would discuss the demands first with the directors and that all company decisions would be announced on their official social media account.
Association of Indonesian Retailers (Aprindo) Chairperson Roy Nicholas Mandey meanwhile said he was concerned that a boycott of products affiliated with or allegedly pro-Israel could result in a reduction in or the dismissal of employees (PHK).
According to Mandey, the boycott action could result in a decline in the production and sale of goods.
"You can imagine, as manufacturers or suppliers are eroded, investment could be lost, stagnate, growth will defiantly not occur. Moreover what we least want to do, but would have to be done if there's no choice, is to reduce the number of workers or PHK", said Mandey during a press conference at the Epicentrum Walk in South Jakarta on Wednesday November 15. (frd/DAL)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aksi Bela Palestina di Surabaya Desak Restoran Cepat Saji Ditutup".]