Cheese and cosmetics: Stores in Muslim countries boycott French products

These images showing French products pulled from supermarket shelves in several Muslim countries have spread online since October 23.
These images showing French products pulled from supermarket shelves in several Muslim countries have spread online since October 23.


Over the last few days, more and more countries in the Middle East have called to boycott French products. That call was reiterated on October 26 by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The political row started when French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to defend the right to caricature the Prophet Mhammed in the name of freedom of expression. Videos taken in Qatar, Jordan and Kuwait show empty shelves in supermarkets after companies withdrew French products in the wake of his comments.

"We will not give up our cartoons," declared Emmanuel Macron on October 21, during the tribute ceremony for the teacher Samuel Paty, who was murdered on October 16 after he had shown a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed to his students. Macron's vow to protect the country's cherished secular values ​​at all costs provoked anger across the Muslim world.

On October 2, the French president proposed a new bill that would fight against “Islamist separatism” – an initiative that many in Muslim countries considered racist.


'Cheese, moisturisers and cosmetics'

Since October 23, calls for a boycott along with videos of products being removed from shelves have been published online with the hashtags #boycottfrenchproducts or #boycottfrance.

In Kuwait, more than 70 retail cooperatives announced a boycott of French products. The vice-president of the federation Khaled al-Otaibi told AFP, “We have pulled all French products, namely cheese, moisturisers and cosmetics”.

In this video, a supermarket employee reads out a statement from his company over a shopping trolley filled with the French cheese brand Kiri. His company, the al-Salmiyya cooperative, says it plans to pull all French products from its shelves.

Empty shelves emblazoned with French brand names like Garnier or L'Oréal in a supermarket in Kuwait.

The news agency AFP reported that some 430 travel agencies in Kuwait have also suspended all flight reservations with France as their destination, according to the head of the federation of Kuwaiti travel agencies, Mohammed al-Motairi.

In Qatar, the large supermarket chains Al-Meera and Soug al-Baladi have announced that they will be taking all French products off their shelves until further notice.



In Jordan, the Islamic Action Front, an opposition party, called on citizens to boycott French products.


In this video, employees at an Alaqrabawe Mall supermarket put boxes of 'The Laughing Cow' cheese into trolleys. “To honour our Prophet, we're getting rid of all of the French products,” explains one of the workers.


In this Yaser Mall supermarket in Jordan, shelves containing French products have been covered up.

The French minister for foreign trade Frank Riester said on Sunday that the economic effect of this boycott was “impossible to put into figures right now”. In an interview with the French media Europe 1, the geopolitical researcher Frédéric Encel said that the boycott was “totally secondary on the economic and diplomatic side of things.” He did however point out that if the boycott continued to grow online and offline, it could have an impact.