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Malaysia: KFC Temporarily Closes Outlets Following Successful Boycott Campaign

Kuala Lumpur: The international fast food chain KFC has announced the temporary closure of its outlets in Malaysia following widespread calls for a boycott of several Western companies due to their perceived ties to Israel.

KFC Malaysia has temporarily shut down several outlets nationwide in the wake of calls for a boycott of the company due to its alleged connections to Israel. With the widespread boycott campaign influenced by the US and other Western countries’ support for Israel’s genocide in Gaza, resultantly Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has temporarily closed more than 100 of its outlets in Malaysia. The closures, which affect 108 of its 600 franchises in the country, have primarily impacted locations in the Muslim-majority Kelantan state.

QSR Brands, the company that operates franchises for KFC and Pizza Hut in Malaysia, stated in a press release that the KFC outlets have been temporarily shut down due to “challenging economic conditions” Local media report that this closure is a result of a boycott campaign against the food chain.

The closures come amid a broader backlash against American fast-food chains in Muslim-majority countries, part of the global Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement which advocates for economic measures against Israel due to its policies towards Palestinians.

The BDS movement in Malaysia has grown in response to ongoing military actions in Gaza, affecting not only KFC but other American brands such as McDonald’s and Starbucks as well. Earlier this year, McDonald’s faced significant sales declines in the Middle East and Southeast Asia after its Israeli franchise donated meals to the Israeli military, which led to the corporation taking direct control over its operations in Israel.

Moreover, Starbucks has also reported substantial losses following a pro-Palestine social media post by the Starbucks Workers United union, leading to legal actions against the union. This boycott impact was also highlighted for Berjaya Food, the Starbucks franchisee in Malaysia, which reported a 38.2% drop in sales in the fourth quarter of 2023.  Similarly, the Malaysian franchisee for McDonald’s initiated a lawsuit against BDS Malaysia, seeking damages for over $1 million due to “false and defamatory statements” linked to the boycott.

It is noteworthy that Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country and a supporter of Palestinians, saw the initiation of boycotts against Western brands that have ties with Israel, especially food chains, following the Israeli genocide in Gaza.

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