McDonald's Malaysia has sued a movement promoting boycotts against Israel for "false and defamatory statements" that it says hurt its business, seeking damages amounting to 6 million ringgit ($1.31 million).
Malaysia, a majority-Muslim country, is a staunch supporter of the Palestinians, and some Western fast-food brands in the country, as in some other Muslim nations, have been targeted by boycott campaigns over Israel's military offensive in Gaza.
Gerbang Alaf Restaurants Sdn Bhd (GAR), which is the licencee of McDonald's in Malaysia, is suing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Malaysia movement for a series of social media postings allegedly linking the fast-food franchise, among other companies, to Israel's "genocidal war against Palestinians in Gaza".
According to a writ of summons dated Dec. 19 sighted by Reuters, Gerbang Alaf Restaurants alleged that BDS Malaysia incited the public to boycott McDonald's Malaysia, which led to a loss of profit and job cuts, among other damages, due to closures and shortened operating hours of its outlets.
McDonald's Malaysia confirmed it filed the suit against BDS Malaysia to protect its "rights and interests", it said in a statement on Friday.
In response, BDS Malaysia said it "categorically denies" defaming the fast-food company and would leave the matter to the court.
The BDS movement aims to end international support for Israel's "oppression of Palestinians" and pressure Israel to comply with international law.
($1 = 4.5900 ringgit)
Reporting by Danial Azhar; Editing by Sonali Paul