January 29, 2006

The bread without the –Danish- butter, never mind the CAT merchandise!

So I go to my favorite steak joint to have lunch here in Riyadh, and the excessively-nice Filipino host dwell upon me with an apologetic tone “Sorry Sir, we’re not serving butter, would you still like the bread without it?”

Finally, a business from the middle of the boycotting hierarchy has made the plunge, thanks to a bunch of almost-Scandinavian cartoonists whose understanding of diversity and freedom of speech are all but too wrong!

Alas, the perpetuating apartheid & occupation against a sovereign nation for half a centaury and the killing of hundred of thousands in Iraq & Afghanistan were not good enough to shake the masses, but few drawings depicting utter blasphemy were…

I’m like my fellow blogger
Ohoud; an old-school boycotter from the heydays of the Al-Aqsa uprising, picked up the habit and could not drop it for various reasons, whether boycotting was effective or not; it really becomes irrelevant, it is a matter of personal choice, it’s an utter display of power of the average citizen exhibited without any restraint besides being a helpless consumer with no obvious alternatives.

Boycotting at the bottom of the hierarchy is not that samples, where one is merely just another individual trying to make a stance in the midst of swarms of consumers being dragged all along: you’ll rarely find an alternative drink to wash down the sandwich you munch on during lunch, beside the odd occasion of offering water as a substitute by some food outlets. At supermarkets, choosing not to purchase an American product - or of companies affiliated with Israel- also have a cumbersome prospect, as local (along with regional) businesses and manufacturers really where not up to the challenge of identifying the great demand the boycott movement has created, and failed to meet the expectations of the alternative-hungry quality & price concious consumer…

In contrast with Saudi today, the whole of the boycott hierarchy came to aid, from the very top, the Government itself called its ambassador, businesses… yes sir, businesses willingly accepted to incur great losses for the sake of cleaning their shelves from Danish products worth millions of dollars, and then comes the petty consumer to find himself without a choice but to boycott Denmark, better known for their Lurpak cows lavishly being nurtured and well kept!

Whither you a boycott doubter or simply faint-hearted believer in boycotting, here in Saudi, you really have no choice but to take part in this movement, many used to argue -during previous outbursts- that boycotting was all about volume, and there you have it, masses upon masses, most of whom are not really aware of the circumstances that triggered the boycott movement they’re taking part in, yet I suspect that sheer romanticism is what aggregated businesses to stop offering Danish products, and the general consumer not to seek it, catalyzed by the rare occasion of governmental blessing.

Not that I’m questioning the validity of this particular boycott movement or the motives behind it, I’m all for it and with it, at best it will set a live contemporary example that may just barely awake the more established but mostly ignored American-products boycott movement.

Sigh… at least now others will know that we wouldn’t mind the shedding of innocent lives in Iraq or demolishing homes in Palestine, but dare to mock the prophet –peace & blessing upon him- in local papers and we’ll roar with anger and stop consuming your goods… hear that!


Kommy said...

Salam Sheikh :)

Only this morning I was wondering about this boycott business...

The Americans, the EU and even the black knight in rusting armour currently riding the "old-donkey-of-the-UN" (as Robert Fisk once wrote)have already commented to the effect of 'boycotting' the Palestinians off their generous funding if Hamas is even a 'part' of the a government, let alone 'the' government representing the Palestinians...

So, starving the already battered and walled-in Palestinians out of their salaries, their public services, what's left of their jobs and their basic needs in order to blackmail them out of their stupid democratic choice and into shedding Hamas off, is hardly a matter that warrants action ..

I am even begining to blush before I say it ..no no no ..nothing drastic as a symbolic oil embergo, you know, stopping the wells for 30 or 45 minutes..or anything nasty or harmful like that, no ...of course not- anyone would be STARK RAVING MAD to even think that !!

Not even a boycott of American or EU products for even a week or so, -that also would probably be too damaging to the friendly people of our international um,...friends!

..and even symbolically undertaking to finance the hapless Authority in the interim may be too um, extreme, notwithstanding the immense oil revenues of late- so perhaps better stir away from that one too...

How about ...um, ah.., umm ..yes!!!Explaining! yes!!!! EXPLAINING to them that Hamas has never counted on any aid from anyone for its own projects, yes, and explaing that their generous funds are meant to be directed at the people of Palestine and not their political repres..en..t..a..tive..s....???-ah.. Oooops .. -cancel that!

Sorry Sheikh, I am not making sense here so far, so please, scrap all what I said !

Yes! Yes Yes Yessss!!!!!
Defending the image of Salla Allahu 3alyehi Wa Sallam has actually served to quell a lot of the anger that I have had to swallow as an Arab or as a Palestinian or even as a Muslim, on a variety of issues for a rather long, long time.

Yes, our leaders have done a great job by defending his image (saws) that now I hear that the Danish paper has even issued an apology on this AND the honrary rep of Denmark in Jordan (or was it the other way round?) has been recalled by one of the two for urgent consultations on this...

Good. Great. It worked. By satisfying my immense need as a Muslim to have the image of the most important person in my life properly defended by some show of action by even some of the Arab Muslim states, I can now feel better about the whole thing.

Everything else is cheap and eventually worthless compared to that.

About Palestine, Iraq ..etc. That can be sorted out later. With patience, forebearance and.. and a lot of prayer and du3aa2 on my part and the part of other committed Muslims, to the Almighty to guide the steps of our leaders to what's good for our great nation, eveything will eventually be alright I suppose.


p.s. sorry about the lack of butter Sheikh, I myself order the steak without any sauce and I love to knife on a good swap of butter and black pepper on it. Don't they have Anchor in Riyadh? it is from Newzeland and it's good!

Ohoud said...

Thanks for highlighting the issue Basem. I actually wanted to highlight it also, but thought my patriosm might overshadow my logic and distroy the aim of the post from the first place.

Its an irony to see how arabs decide to react and to what and most importantly how!

But there are two things to note regarding this new boycotting policy:

First, Denmark is a democratic state, and this cartoonist is acting in his name and not in the name of whole Denmark. The individuals there have their own rights of expression, nothing including religion is excluded from that. On the contrary to our part of the world,where anything that opens the opportunity to debate a religion is banned (The banning of the Da vinci code by Dan brown, being an example.

So in my opinion boycotting the state is a useless act.Since in their law he didnt do anything illegal.

Secondly, comparing it to the Israeli boycotting, the latter is an action against the state istelf,naming it as illegal and illegitimate. The whole being illegitimate.

So there's quite a difference.I mean when I boycott American products I boycott the ones supporting Israel, in addition to the Israeli products, and not ALL american products. Thats called differentiation. Did all Denmark companies draw these cartoons? do all have the same stand as the cartoonist?

Ya3ni even when we decide to finally take action, its totally "(tote hose) as one says in german" which is translated into "dead trouses" by word and literally by "useless case"...

Kommy said...

Salam Ohuod :)

..a small question regarding your idealistic, but otherwise faultless flow of ideas:

..what if the Danish cartoonist had actually done a series of drawings questioning or mocking (democratically, of course) the so called holocaust, how would the questions of legality and democracy and freedon of speeech etc. be resolved then?

If there are holy cows at all, so why not mine? If mine is holy too then why is his cow hollier than mine? But if mine is not holy, then I have a right (in my opinion) to fight in every decent way open to me to make mine holy too.

So, no, I do not think it is an entierely useless case- not for those who would like to see their own cows respected too.


onzlo said...

The question is, why didn't they offer you French butter with your steak?? President is much better than Lurpack anyway.

The bigger question is why don't we have an Arab company producing butter? isn't it about time why try to get out of our utter dependence on others for nearly everything?

Ohoud said...


Reflecting on what I said earlier on, I think I was carried away.Its a human reaction to always think that ones cause is the holiest of all. I plead guilty.

Now first of all I would like to point something out so I wouldnt be misunderstood, and that is that Im as utterly offended of these cartoons like everyone else and especially that they're not only memicking our Prophet but reaching the extent of bluntly relating him to terrorism and Muslim extremism.

Anyhow, to rephrase what I said or to re-think some of it, I wouldnt say that its a useless case but rather the idea its based on doesnt really implement the cause, meaning we are asking them to respect our religion and our beliefs and at the same time we are boycotting a whole state for a belief that isnt even theirs as a whole!

I find it somehow not logic. I mean i truely think im in an inner chaos and contradiction, since I seriously hailed for the boycotting at the begining and was quite pleased with our stand, but these two things just didnt leave my thoughts in peace.

First, the thought I stated earlier on.
Second being, us taking a stand upon this and forgetting all about Iraq and Palestine where people are killed daily. Its a huge let down, since its a big indication that we ;as arabs; are truely capable of taking a stand, but unfortunately only for the causes that suit us...

now concerning your first question about the holocaust. Well he'll turn out to be anti-semetic, Jewish hater and we'll never hear of him again. I mean is it even logical to compare the jewish lobby in the world to our innsie winsie organizations?

Thats a useless case:p

Ohoud said...

Basem you've been tagged, if you dont mind that is :)

check here: http://arabesquerhabsody.com/blog/?p=91

Ragg said...

i feel for your need for Lurpak

best butter in the world

sorry you have to go without it...

and of all things becaus of politics

im just happy that my local arab(iran) dealer still sells me my favorite Iran goat cheese i spread over my bread with you guessed it with lurpak between.

makes one wonder why this only works one way ;)

abu-samra said...

Regardless of the results, this boycott thing is a perfect way to make yourself heard. These cartoons where published 4 months ago, but it’s only when the boycott and the protests started that the Danish officials addressed the issue, However, it's a matter of dignity after all.

By the way it's OK to discuss the holocaust in Denmark.