Published on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 by Reuters

Boycott of American Goods Over Iraq War Gains

by Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN - No more Coca-Cola or Budweiser, no Marlboro, no American

whiskey or even American Express cards -- a growing number of

restaurants in Germany are taking everything American off their menus

to protest the war in Iraq.

Children shout anti-US slogans as they gather with other protesters

outside the US embassy in Berlin March 20, 2003, after the start of

the US-led military action against Iraq. No more Coca-Cola or

Budweiser, no Marlboro, no American whiskey or even American Express

cards -- a growing number of restaurants in Germany are taking

everything American off their menus to protest the Iraq war. Although

the protests are mainly symbolic, waiters in dozens of bars and

restaurants in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Bonn and other German cities

are telling patrons, 'Sorry, Coca-Cola is not available any more due

to the current political situation.' (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)

Although the protests are mainly symbolic, waiters in dozens of bars

and restaurants in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Bonn and other German

cities are telling patrons, "Sorry, Coca-Cola is not available any

more due to the current political situation."

The boycotts appear to be part of a nascent worldwide movement. One

Web site, www.consumers-against-war.de, calls for boycotts of 27 top

American firms from Microsoft to Kodak while another,

www.adbusters.org, urges the "millions of people against the war"

to "Boycott Brand America."

Consumer fury seems to be on the rise. Demonstrators in Paris smashed

the windows of a McDonald's restaurant last week, forcing police in

riot gear to move in to protect staff and customers of the American

fast-food outlet. The attackers sprayed obscenities and "boycott" on

the windows.

In Indonesia, Iraq war opponents have pasted signs on McDonald's and

other American food outlets, trying to force them shut by "sealing

them" and urging Indonesians to avoid them.

In the Swiss city of Basel, 50 students recently staged a sit-down

strike in front of a McDonald's to block customers' entry, waved

peace signs and urged people to eat pretzels instead of hamburgers.

Anti-American sentiment has even reached provinces in Russia, where

some rural eateries put up signs telling Americans they were

unwelcome, according to an Izvestia newspaper report.

A German bicycle manufacturer, Riese und Mueller GmbH, canceled all

business deals with its American suppliers.

"Americans only pay attention when money is on the line," director

Heiko Mueller told Reuters, whose firm buys $300,000 worth of

supplies from half a dozen American firms each year.

"We wanted to make a statement against this war and told our American

partners that unless they renounce what their government is doing we

won't do any business with them anymore."

SMALL BUT SYMBOLIC ACTS

The German restaurant boycotts of American products started small but

spread rapidly after the Iraq war began on Thursday. The conflict has

struck a raw nerve in a country that became decidedly anti-war after

the devastation of World War II, which it initiated.

"If people all around the world boycott American products it might

influence their policies," said Jean-Yves Mabileau, owner

of "L'Auberge Francaise" which joined 10 Hamburg restaurants in

banning Coca Cola, Philip Morris' Marlboro cigarettes, whiskey and

other American goods.

"This started as a light-hearted reaction to Americans dumping French

wine in the gutter and renaming 'French Fries' as 'Freedom Fries',"

he said. "But it feels good to take a stand against this war. It is

just a small gesture, but a good one."

Diners at the Osteria restaurant in Berlin are finding that "things

go better without Coke" and are ordering Germany's long overshadowed

imitation of "the real thing" -- the slightly sweeter "Afri-Cola" --

to express their outrage.

"We wanted to do something to express our annoyance," Osteria owner

Fabio Angile told Reuters. "We want to hit America where it hurts --

in their wallets. None of the customers have complained. On the

contrary, most thought it was a great idea."

Herve Keroureda, owner of a French restaurant in Hamburg known as "Ti

Breizh," said he was astonished by the massive media coverage of

their small-scale anti-American protest.

"It was only intended as a small gesture but has turned into a

gigantic issue," he said. "And the reaction from the patrons has been

tremendous. Most have called it a brilliant idea."

In Bonn, bartender Bruno Kessler said he was refusing to sell

American whiskey or American beer such as Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser

at his "Eifeler Stuben."

"I asked myself 'What can I possibly do to show my anger over this

barbary?'," he told Germany's N-24 television network.

STARBUCKS, BIG MACS AVOIDED

Sarah Stolz, a 22-year-old German student of American studies, was

headed for a Starbucks, coffee shop in central Berlin when her anti- war conscience got the best of her.

"I was thinking about going into Starbucks which I love, when I

realized it was wrong," she said. "I'm backing the boycott because

the war is totally unjustified."

Rita Marschall was avoiding McDonald's and Burger King.

"I'm boycotting American products because their policy on Iraq is

totally wrong," said Marschall, 26, in front of a Berlin

McDonald's. "It's just one of many ways we can take a stand."

Some German bakeries have renamed a local cake known as "Amerikaner" -

- a disk-shaped pastry with icing on top -- as "Peace-ies," bearing a

peace sign piped in chocolate sauce.

The boycotts are having only a negligible business impact.

Establishments often associated with the American way of life such as

Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's and Coca-Cola reported no major

business impact from the protests. Dunkin Donuts is owned by

Britain's Allied Domecq

"We're really a local business in Germany, the product is made in

Germany and they're boycotting German products," said Jonathan

Chandler, communications director for Coca-Cola Europe, Eurasia and

the Middle East in London.

Chandler declined comment on whether it was hurting sales, but an

industry source said any impact would not be serious.

A spokeswoman for McDonald's in Europe said there had been no

discernible impact on sales from the actions, and described the

attack on the Paris restaurant as "an unfortunate incident during a

protest."

"As a global entity, McDonald's is just a brand," she said. "Most of

the restaurants are local franchises and support their local

community. So why do they attack McDonald's? If you get a good answer

please let me know."

In the London suburb of Milton Keynes, the Greens party have called

on consumers to boycott 330 American products ranging from Mars bars

to Gap jeans and American films on DVD and video.

In Zurich, travel agents said some clients who usually take holidays

in the United States are changing their destinations.

"Some of the most loyal customers who have been traveling to the

United States for years have changed their plans because they don't

like what Bush is doing," Lucia Zeller, director of the Travac travel

agency, told the Tages Anzeiger newspaper.

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