A legal battle is brewing between McDonald’s Malaysia and a pro-Palestinian activist group over alleged defamation on social media.
GAR, the company that operates McDonald’s franchises in Malaysia, has filed a lawsuit against BDS Malaysia, a movement that calls for boycotting Israeli products and companies, for posting several statements on Facebook and Twitter that accused McDonald’s of supporting Israel and its occupation of Palestinian territories.
According to GAR, these statements are false, malicious and damaging to its reputation and business interests. The company is seeking RM4 million ($1 million) in damages, as well as an injunction to stop BDS Malaysia from making further defamatory remarks.
BDS Malaysia, however, has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight the lawsuit. The group claims that it is exercising its right to freedom of expression and that its campaign is based on factual information and international law. The group also argues that McDonald’s is indirectly complicit in Israel’s violations of human rights and international law by paying royalties to its parent company in the US, which has close ties with Israel.
The case is expected to go to trial soon and could have implications for other multinational corporations operating in Malaysia, as well as for the freedom of speech and activism in the country.