McDonald's in pickle over mounting boycott calls by Pro-Palestinian customers

Ahram Online , Sunday 15 Oct 2023

McDonald's branches in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, Turkey, and Pakistan released separate but almost identical statements asserting they belonged to a "100 percent [local] company" in response to boycott calls.

McDonald s
File Photo: McDonald s Brunch. Reuters


The mounting calls surfaced after McDonald's Israel branch reportedly offered free meals to Israeli soldiers.

Pro-Palestinian customers perceived this initiative by McDonald's in Israel as part of the Western support for the ongoing war on Gaza.

McDonald's found itself embroiled in the Israeli war on Gaza news shortly after the Israeli-owned franchise reportedly published Instagram and X posts – following the Al-Aqsa Flood operation – stating that it was donating thousands of free meals to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers.

The Israeli branch has also reportedly offered a 50 percent discount for IDF soldiers on additional food items.

Arabs and Muslims on social media denounced the posts, calling customers to boycott McDonald's as a gesture of support to the Palestinians in Israeli-blockaded Gaza, especially amid Israel’s continuous bombardment against the enclave.

The branches in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, Turkey, and Pakistan distanced themselves from the Israeli branch’s action, stressing that they are not responsible for what other franchises in other countries do.

McDonald's Egypt, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia donated EGP 20 million, $250 million, and SR 2 million to aid the Palestinians in the enclave.

McDonald's Turkey also announced providing $1 million in humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.

The supporters of the Palestinians reported that hours following the boycott calls, the posts published by McDonald's Israel were either deleted or were inaccessible.

Screenshots of the tweets and posts are ubiquitous on social media, though.

Ahram Online could not access the account of McDonald's Israel on X.

Photos went viral on social media over the past few hours, showing McDonald's outlets, otherwise bustling with customers, almost empty.


In Egypt, social media users called to boycott McDonald’s. A Facebook user named Shady said he was boycotting the restaurant’s meals. “They will never enter my home,” he wrote.

On the other hand, several other users opposed the calls to boycott McDonald's, citing potential layoffs that could affect thousands of Egyptian employees working at McDonald's restaurants nationwide.

An X user named Ahmed Hesham said many people misunderstand the McDonald's issue, stressing that MacDonald's Egypt is separate from the McDonald's of America and Israel. Another user named Bones said no one [should] boycott their country's products, eliminate people’s livelihood, or ruin the lives of the employees' families.

In its statement, McDonald's Egypt – owned by Egyptian business tycoon Yassin Mansour – stressed that it is a 100 percent Egyptian company and that the umbrella company only allows it to use the brand name in the local market.

"The role of the parent McDonald's company is to allow us to use the brand name and provide us with the experience and knowledge to provide the best service to our customers," read the statement.

McDonald's Egypt, which opened its first restaurant in Egypt in 1994 and relies on a domestic workforce, said it creates over 40,000 direct and indirect jobs for Egyptians through its local partners and suppliers.

It noted that it dabbled into several development initiatives to serve several communities in Egypt over the past 30 years, stressing its deep respect for Egypt and Egyptian society, as per the statement.

In a follow-up statement, McDonald's  Egypt announced it was donating money to the Palestinian cause and voiced its sympathy with the Palestinian families affected by the Israeli bombardments.

The Israeli blitz on the 2.3 million Palestinians of Gaza killed more than 2,000 people, including many civilians, and flattened thousands of buildings.

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