Pharrell Williams faced an organized protest in Cape Town, South Africa today ahead of his performance there. Were they mad about the sexism and misogyny in his “Blurred Lines” video? Nope. You’ll be shocked to find out what riled them.
The protesters are opposed to the singer’s promotional deal with Woolworths, a large South African retailer.
They’re upset because they claim Woolworths has close ties to Israel. Bizarre since Pharrell doesn’t have a political bone in his body and is about as affable as a person can be.
The singer and producer is working for the retailer as a style director. He oversees several fashion lines. He’s also the face of some of the brand’s charitable efforts.
For its part, Woolworths has claimed its ties to Israel are minimal. Only one-tenth percent of the food it sells comes from Israel. None of its produce comes from Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and all products are labeled by country of origin, it added.
The group organizing the protest is called the “International Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS).” It opposes Israel’s policy toward Palestinians.
“By working with Woolworths, Pharrell supports Israel, a country that supports the oppression of Palestine, a country that is the new apartheid state,” protester Ashraf Salie, told Reuters News Service.
The group marched, waved signs and Palestinian flags and chanted outside the GrandWest Casino. Pharrell was scheduled to perform there today.
“Pharrell is welcome if Gaza is free” and “Pharrell and Woolworths have blood on their hands.”
Cape Town has a large Muslim community, and they support pro-Palestinian issues, the news service reported. A number of musicians also turned out to support the protest.
Police, meanwhile, maintained a strong presence. The group predicted thousands would turn out. Police put the number of protesters at around 500.
Pharrell’s show was expected to go on as planned.
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