Please, we’re Palestinian sympathisers

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Muslim-owned eateries boycott soft drinks this Ramzan to protest the US support of Israel
MUMBAI: During Ramzan, the marketplace of Bhendi Bazaar transforms into a gastronomical destination, as the rest of the city converges on this crowded area after sundown to feast on various delicacies. According to those who run eateries here, one of the most popular items on the menu, along with the kebabs, is a fizzy bottle of cola to wash it all down. This Ramzan, however, there are no soft drinks available.

The operators of almost all Muslim-owned establishments in this area recently decided to boycott PepsiCo and Coca-Cola. They say that since these cola companies are US-based, this is a way to mark their protest against America’s sustained support for Israel at a time when the Jewish state has been bombing the Gaza Strip. “It is horrible to see the manner in which Israel has been bombing innocent civilians, and how, because of US support, Israel continues to [escape] international pressure,” says Mohammed Hussain, the manager of Shalimar, one of the most popular restaurants in this area. “So we decided to stop selling all soft drinks to protest against what’s happening in a peaceful manner.”

Shalimar and a number of other Muslim-owned outlets enforced a similar boycott for almost two months in 2001, when the US invaded Afghanistan. Babu, manager of Noor Mohammadi, another restaurant, says, “We won’t lift this ban until Israel stops bombing Gaza, or the US takes some steps to ensure peace.” According to Hussain, although most eateries are losing revenues—during Ramzan, Shalimar alone, it is claimed, rakes in a sum of between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000 daily on the sale of soft drinks—most patrons have been supportive of the move. “When customers ask for a soft drink, we explain our reasons for the boycott, and they have almost always shown support. We are offering fruit juices and other drinks like lassi instead.”