The Boycott… So That Our Causes Are Not Lost!

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Thu 2 February / Feb 2017. 01:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

The arrest of the founder of the Facebook page which calls to boycotting telecommunication companies in Jordan was shocking. It raises a question as to why would such a thing reach to the point of such dispute, so bad that it cannot even bear the most sophisticated form of protest, against decisions consumers find unjust!

There is, however, another side to the story; the Facebook “activist” who founded the page abused it for the purposes of defamation and incitation, exploiting the tendencies of the many proponents of boycotting as a means of pressure.

What he did not know, are at least it seems so, is that the million followers on his page will not take to the streets, as he probably thought they would, especially since that the very concept of boycotting utilises a civilised means to oppose without vandalism.

More so, the culture of boycotting is still young, still, it is beginning to spread recently.

It began just a short while ago with the rise of the “lights out” campaign which called upon the public to shut the lights out for one hour in protest against the signing of the agreement with American company ‘Noble Energy’ to purchase natural gas from the occupational state of Israel. The campaign succeeded among a relatively wide segment of society, that it immersed social media platforms with darkness, based on a position that rejects the notion of turning over to Israel the future of our Country, our economy, to do with it as they please!

Despite the popular success, it failed to realise its goal to break the deal.

While that may be true, it did however push the government under immense pressures to review the clauses of the agreement so that it would be fairer for Jordan.

The campaign continues, ‘til this day, peacefully, to openly express the public’s refusal of the deal out of principle.

Another attempt to boycott was the decision by consumers to protest the increase of two primary commodities; eggs and potatoes. This campaign spread like wildfire, which caused a noticeable decline in demand, which in turn pulled the price down. Maybe not to the targeted level, but still, a goal partially attained!

Today, the campaign has extended to boycotting the telecommunications companies and the government, also in protest against reinter policies to collect additional fees on communications. This campaign called for users to turn off their phones for 24 hours.

Now as estimates vary on the possible damage it would actually incur on these companies, it nonetheless remains a most civilised means of objection; pacifist expressions of protest, without violence and incitation.

Like a variety of other means of expression, boycotting is one that must be maintained as a peaceful and civilised means to protest, as many peoples had resorted to it in order to address injustices they have endured, including the civil rights movement in America, a country we envy for its liberties and democracy.

Mindfully, the practice of boycotting, on the long run, helps deepen the concepts of civilised, peaceful protest for the generations to come, that it may be embedded in their behaviour. So long as we are consumer societies, we will have to learn how to influence the market and put a leash on overprotecting, so that consumers are no longer victims!

Boycotting is a weapon; true, and it can be a deadly one. So, we need to learn when and how to use it, for the practice to sustain soundness in its pacifism, for it may very well be stronger than bullets and violence in the face of any injustices consumers may face.

Generally speaking, the culture of boycotting is important and instrumental to the development and progress of nations. Officials and directors in the private and public sector, alike, need to handle this form of protest with respect. They must learn how to absorb the public and address it democratically and openly, instead of the typical negative response we see today.

Freedom of expression is as much a right as it is a need for societies. However, it must not, on the other hand, be exploited to incite negativity and destructive practices.

We must remember that at all times, so that our causes are not lost!

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.