*Not everybody is ‘happy’ when Pharrell Williams comes round, as evident by the nearly 1000 supporters of a Pro-Palestinian group who demonstrated outside a Cape Town venue where he was scheduled to perform recently, in protest against his promotional deal with South African retailer Woolworths and its trade ties with Israel, the NY Daily News reports.
The producer/rapper serves as the style director for the food and clothing retailer, which focuses on giving back to the community. Williams is also aiding Woolworths in education funding. Despite their social services efforts, protesters offered harsh criticism about Pharrell’s partnering with the company.
“By working with Woolworths, Pharrell supports Israel, a country that supports the oppression of Palestine, a country that is the new apartheid state,” said protester Ashraf Salie.
Woolworths says that less that 0.1 percent of its food comes from Israel and that they do not source produce from the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, Vibe reports. The concert still went on as scheduled, and Woolworths tweeted about the show using the hashtag #PharrellWithWoolies, while numerous protesters responded with the hashtag #PharrellProtest.
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) organized the protest and the group says it may hold another demonstration at Pharrell concert in Johannesburg on Thursday, according to BDS Spokesperson Kwara Kekana.
“We are currently in conversation with our partner organisations in Gauteng in so far as how we proceed with the Pharrell concert in Johannesburg,” said Kekana.
“We are saying to Pharrell and Woolworths: Choose to be on the right side of history,” said Muhammed Desai, national coordinator of BDS-SA. Desai said multiple attempts had been made to contact Williams to prevent the protest.
“We were willing to meet with him, fly to wherever he needed to be. But he refused to speak to us.”
Well, as they say in Hollywood, all publicity is good publicity.