Pharrell’s partnership with one of South Africa's largest retailers led to a protests in the country. As many as 1,000, of an anticipated 40,000 pro-Palestine demonstrators organized outside Cape Town’s Grand West Casino Monday.
Protesters held signs reading “Boycott Pharrell,” “Boycott Apartheid” and "Free Palestine" in response to the Grammy-winning producer’s “ground-breaking collaboration” with Woolworths. The South African company, which has no affiliation with the British retailer of the same name, is accused of using Israeli agricultural products grown in Palestinian territory.
The South African branch of activist group Boycott Divestment and Sanctions threatened “the largest protest any artists would have faced since the end of apartheid,” despite falling short of expectations. On Friday, BDS won a court battle against authorities attempting to contain the protest to 150 people.
"Pharrell Williams has been targeted because of his deliberate and informed decision to collaborate with Woolworths,” BDS said in a statement. "Woolworths is a company that maintains unjustifiable trade relations with Apartheid Israel and is the current target of the biggest consumer boycott campaign seen in South Africa since democracy.”
The statement continues, "Pharrell goes as far as describing Woolworths as a company that cares about where their products come from – while Palestinian life and land is usurped each time Woolworths unethically buys Israeli products stolen from Palestinians.”
Pharrell was hired as Woolworth’s style director earlier this year, and the company has denied allegations brought by BDS. Woolworths asserts that less than 0.1 percent of its food products come from Israel, and all imports comply with the guidelines of the South African government.
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(Photo: RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)