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Malaysia boycott will hurt economy

KUALA LUMPUR, January 9 – Coca-Cola spoke out on Friday against a boycott of its drinks and other US goods called by Malaysian Muslim groups over the Gaza offensive, saying it would only hurt the local economy and citizens.

"As everybody else, we are deeply touched by the human side of the situation in the Middle East," Kadri Taib, Coca-Cola Malaysia public affairs and communications director, said in a statement.

"Given the local nature of our business, we believe that calls for boycotts of our products are not the appropriate way to further any causes, as they primarily hurt the local economy, local businesses and local citizens."

It said the beverage company employs some 1,700 Malaysians, 60 percent of whom are Malay Muslims, who dominate the multicultural nation\’s population.

A boycott of US-made goods and firms including Coca-Cola and Starbucks has been called by Muslim groups who are planning a protest Friday at the National Mosque in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

The boycott, aimed at US support of Israel which has mounted the offensive in Gaza, is spearheaded by the Malaysian Islamic Consumers Association as well as the Muslim Restaurant Operators Association which has removed Coca-Cola from the menu at thousands of eateries.

"We hope the Muslim consumers will fully take part so it will send a clear signal to Israel and its allies not to continue to torture Muslims," the Consumers Association said in a statement.

Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad has also called for a global boycott of the US dollar and US products in protest over Washington\’s support of Israel.

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