S. Africans protest US singer for perceived Israel ties
About 1,000 South African activists gathered late Monday to protest against U.S. Grammy Award-winning singer Pharrell Williams – who was performing at a concert in Cape Town – due to the singer’s perceived links to Israel.
Organizers said they were protesting William’s decision to perform at a concert sponsored by U.S. retail giant Woolworths, which is accused of having close trade links with Israel.
"Our protest was very successful,” organizer Muhammed Desai, who is also a leader of the South African chapter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, told Anadolu Agency.
"We managed to send a clear message to both Woolworths and Pharrell,” he added.
The protest, Desai said, was also aimed at drumming up international support for the Palestinian cause and ratcheting up pressure on Israel to end its decades-long occupation of Palestinian land.
"We have many pressing issues in South Africa, but we must also find time to show solidarity,” he told Anadolu Agency by phone shortly after the protest.
Over the course of the last year, BDS campaigners have held nationwide protests to demand that Woolworths remove Israeli goods from its shelves in line with an international economic boycott of the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
BDS is a global movement devoted to raising economic and political pressure on Israel with the ultimate aim of ending the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land.
In an earlier statement, BDS said Williams had also breached an international cultural boycott by scheduling a performance soon to be held in Israel.
Muhammad Khalid Sayed, a member of the ruling African National Congress (ANC)’s youth league, urged protesters to maintain their boycott, pointing out that international sanctions had helped isolate – and eventually bring down – South Africa’s former apartheid regime.
"The ANC youth league supports calls for the isolation of apartheid Israel,” he said, going on to assert that the struggles of the South African and Palestinian peoples were interlinked.
Other speakers at Monday’s protest called on the South African government to sever diplomatic ties with Israel.
Anadolu Agency’s requests for comment from spokespersons for both Williams and Woolworths, meanwhile, went unanswered.
Last Modified: 2015-09-22 08:51:47
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