Reaction to TV show ‘highlights hatred for Syrian/Lebanese people’*

'EMBARRASSED': Gary Aboud

Mode Alive chief executive offi­cer Gary Aboud has criticised a Facebook post made by his cousin, businessman Michael Patrick Aboud, which said protesters in the United States were using the George Floyd police killing as an excuse “to do what comes natural” to them.

Many on social media have since vowed to boycott all Aboud-owned businesses.

“Personally, I have no interest in discussing this person or the lunacy of his comment or what would drive him to embody such principles or ideas,” Gary Aboud told the Express when contacted by telephone yesterday.

He said it was regretful any citizen would make such comments at a time when America was “being torn at its essence”.

“For me, it’s reassuring and admirable that many non-Afro, non-minority citizens are part of the demonstrations and outrage being shown in America. Certainly, every right-minded citizen should stand up on the side of fair treatment and justice for all. Martin Luther King’s and Nelson Mandela’s sacrifices for their lifetimes should not have gone in vain. Lest all of us pay attention to our past, we run the risk of making the same errors again and again,” he said.

Ripple effects

On the calls for a boycott of Aboud-owned businesses, the Mode Alive owner said:

“Certainly, citizens who are calling for a boycott would realise that boycotts, even boycotts of apartheid, cause ripple effects where innocent and vulnerables would be affected. Having said that, I welcome all citizens to act in a lawful and democratic way, and if persons choose to boycott whether our small establishment, Mode Alive, or lar­ger establishments as they choose, it is a citizen’s entitlement. But to me, responding to the idiocy of stupid statements made gives credibility to the stupidity of the statement itself.”

In his post on Sunday, Michael Patrick Aboud said: “Burning and looting is not protest for any good. They use the Floyd matter to do what comes natural. An excuse.”

The post drew ire from hundreds of Facebook users who deemed it racist. The post has since been removed. Floyd, an African-American, died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes while he was handcuffed on the ground. He pleaded he could not breathe, but the officer did not ease off.

The incident has sparked protests and violence throughout the US and other major cities across the world.

Calls for boycott of Dianne Tea Shop

Meanwhile, the owner of Dianne Tea Shop in Maraval, Dianne Hunt, also came in for heavy criticism after a photo of a cake on a plate with the words “All Lives Matter” written in chocolate was posted on the company’s Facebook page.

As protests and unrest continue in the US over Floyd’s death, social media users around the world participated in “Blackout Tuesday” yesterday by posting black backgrounds as their profile pictures and statuses.

“Blackout Tuesday” was meant to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, an international movement that campaigns against systemic racism and violence towards black people.

Many people believe the slogan “All Lives Matter” seeks to downplay racism and shift the focus away from the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hunt later removed the post and apologised for “offending many people out there”.

“I had no idea that All Lives Matter was a contradiction to Black Lives Matter. I stand in full support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. My teashop stands by our founding principle ‘Share a Cup of Love’. We welcome all our beautiful customers and committed to continue giving love,” she said on the company’s Facebook page.

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