Jaljeera, mocktails replace colas as hoteliers protest Israeli bombings in Gaza

Over a hundred hoteliers across the city are boycotting American soft drinks as ‘United States is supporting Israelis in the conflict’.

Extending their support to the Palestinians, over 270 of whom have been killed in the ongoing Israeli bombing attacks in Gaza, more than a hundred hoteliers in various parts of the city are boycotting cola drinks, including Pepsi and Coca Cola.

The hoteliers have taken the step against the American products, because “America is supporting the Israelis in the conflict”, they said.

While several prominent hotels including Shalimar, Baghdadi and Noor Mohammadi Hotel at Bhendi Bazaar, and Persian Durbar at Byculla, stopped selling cola drinks four to five days ago, other smaller hotels have stopped purchasing fresh stock. The move is backed by hoteliers from Colaba to Behram Baug in Jogeshwari, and Bhendi Bazar to Kurla, Mumbra and other areas.

With Ramzan in progress, people in the Muslim-dominated areas are resorting to mocktails, juices and jaljeera as alternatives.

On July 16, more than a hundred members of the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association met at Shalimar Hotel to discuss the issue. “We have taken a collective decision to boycott these products as a silent protest to the bombings that are killing so many innocent people, including children. We will continue this protest until the bombings are stopped,” said Omaer Sheikh, managing director of Shalimar.

Terming it as ‘a peaceful protest’, the hoteliers said the purpose is to convey their disapproval of the indiscriminate bombings of hospitals, mosques and villages in Gaza to the Israeli government.

“United States is supporting the Israelis, so in protest we decided to stop selling American cola drinks five days ago. It is horrible to see the way the Israelis are bombing innocent civilians. We cannot do too much, but this is our way of protesting,” said Rashid Hakim, owner of Noor Mohammadi restaurant.

Some small restaurants have stopped replenishing supplies. “We completely stopped purchasing new stock three days ago. Though we don’t know much about the issue, we are protesting against the violence by the Israelis,” said Mushtaq Motiwala, owner of Ali Bhai Seekhwala, arestaurant in Pydhonie.

In 2001, a similar two-month protest against the killing of innocents by US bombings in Afghanistan had been undertaken by hundreds of Muslim and non-Muslim hoteliers in the city. Identifying Coca Cola and Pepsi as symbols of American consumerism, the boycott had alarmed cola companies at that time.

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