Malaysian and Indonesian Muslim groups are telling their followers to stay away from Starbucks coffee shops, because the company supports the liberal rights of the LGBT community, according to news reports on Thursday.
The strict Islamist groups, which encompass more than 29 million members in both countries, denounced the chain in an apparent reaction to pro-LGBT comments made several years ago by former CEO Howard Schultz.
One of the groups, known as Perkasa, called for the Malaysian government to revoke the trading license given to Starbucks and any other companies, including Microsoft and Apple, that support LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.
Amini Amir Abdullah of Perkasa explained that Muslims should boycott Starbucks because its pro-gay rights policy is not only forbidden by Sharia law, it also goes against Malaysia’s constitution. According to the country’s sodomy laws, convicted homosexuals can serve up to 20 years in prison.
Homosexuality is not yet illegal in Indonesia, which ranks as the world’s most populous Muslim nation, but that could change soon, due to a case before the Constitutional Court which seeks to criminalize homosexuality and sex outside of marriage.
“#BoycottStarbucks” has been popular on Twitter in Indonesia, and shares of the company that operates Starbucks are down this week, despite the fact that stores in Jakarta still attract plenty of customers.
According to Gavin Bowring, a Malaysia analyst at risk consulting company Eurasia Group, the boycott reflects “a growing tendency toward conservatism and strict adherence to Islamic principles.”
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