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Cooperatives take Danish goods off shelves

By Amira Agarib / 31 January 2006

DUBAI — The UAE Cooperative societies have withdrawn all Danish consumer products from the shelves of its outlets since Saturday.

Ibrahim Al Bahr, Operations Manager of Union Cooperatives, told Khaleej Times yesterday that the decision was taken following the publication of the blasphemous drawings in a Danish newspaper recently.

He explained that the initiative to boycott the Danish products was taken by the Union Cooperatives and Sharjah Cooperatives Union after communicating last Thursday with the Consumer Cooperatives Union and other cooperative societies in the country following pressure from the consumers to boycott Danish products.

Al Bahr disclosed that the cooperatives have withdrawn a total of 37 Danish products including major brands such as Lurpak, Al Areesh Chicken Nuggets, Buke Cheese, Three Cows Cheese, Artic Gold Chicken and others.

The societies have instead offered alternative choices of dairy products from other countries and from the Gulf countries at cheaper prices, he said, adding: ''We appreciate the combined move made by all society members who are giving their fullest support to the boycott call made by Muslim religious scholars across the globe.''

In addition, the Union has also posted a list of all Danish products available in the UAE for the awareness of the consumers to enable them support the boycott.

Al Bahr said he was contacted by BBC to know why they proposed to continue with their boycott of Danish goods despite the apology by the Danish newspaper and condemnation of the publication by the Danish government with the Ambassador of Denmark in Riyadh confirming on behalf of the Danish prime minister that his country respects Islam as a religion and has no agenda to hurt Muslim sentiments.

“I told them we want an apology for 1.3 billion Muslims all over the world. And after the apology we want the Danish government to take action against the offenders,” he said.

Al Bahr noted that if the Danish believe that if the blasphemous drawings were an outcome of their freedom of expression, then even the Muslims across the world have the freedom to boycott their products.

Al Bahr stated that the local agent of the major Danish companies in the UAE has apologised and has issued an apology letter posted on the web site of the Danish newspaper as well as letters by Danish prime minister and Danish minister of foreign affairs reproduced by the Danish ambassador in Riyadh.

''But we refuse to accept this because the apology is not issued to us directly,'' he remarked.

He pointed out that the societies have not determined any specific period of time during which they will boycott Danish products, but added they will continue with the boycott and if necessary stop completely all imports of Danish products into the country.

Meanwhile, Thomas Bay, Consul and Trade Commissioner at the Royal Danish Consulate and Trade Commission of Denmark in Dubai, expressed fear that the cost of the controversy will be high as Muslims are not likely to forget and forgive quickly.

Already, Danish companies in the UAE have reported losses of millions of dirhams.


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