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McDonald’s outlet in Peshawar not closed due to boycott over pro-Israel stance

Misleading image shared widely while the fast food chain remained open for business

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Claim: A McDonald’s outlet in Peshawar was temporarily closed after a massive boycott due to McDonalds’ pro-IDF stance in the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Fact: The McDonald’s outlet in Peshawar was not closed, but was open and operational as usual, according to local sources and online reviews. The claim is false.

On 5 November 2023, Turkish media outlet Yeni Şafak English posted an image on Instagram claiming that a McDonald’s outlet in Peshawar was temporarily closed following a massive boycott against McDonalds’ pro-Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) stance in the ongoing conflict in Gaza. 

The image shows a McDonald’s branch with a cloth barrier between the photographer and the outlet. The caption implies that the barrier  indicates the outlet is closed, stating that, “Local activists from Peshawar reported that McDonald’s temporarily shuttered its doors in the city and erected barriers after Pakistanis joined the boycott in full force to protest Israeli crimes in Gaza.”

A reverse image search revealed the same image was posted to Facebook on 4 November 2023 with a similar caption.

What’s going on in Gaza?

On 7 October 2023, the Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, launched a “surprise attack” on Israel via sea, land, and air. In response, the Israeli government formally declared war on Hamas on 8 October 2023. 

At least 1,400 fatalities have been reported in Israel, while health officials reported that more than 7,000 people have been killed in Gaza, Palestine, according to a report by OCHA. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the UNRWA, reported that over one million people, almost half the total population of Gaza, have been displaced. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza continues at the time of writing. 

Fact or Fiction?

The claim is false. McDonald’s outlet in Peshawar was not closed due to any boycott, only temporarily shut during a massive pro-Palestine rally organised by a major political party. It was open and operational as usual after the rally, according to local sources and online reviews.

A quick Google search using the phrase “Mcdonald’s Peshawar” shows that there are two McDonald’s outlets in Peshawar: one on Ring Road and another on University Road. The image in question depicts the HBK Arena branch on Ring Road.

Hashir, assistant manager at McDonald’s HBK Arena, confirmed to Soch Videos producer Ibrahim Zauq that this branch was closed between 3 pm-7 pm only on 10 Nov for security reasons because of a general pro-Palestine protest by Jamat-e-Islami (JI) in the vicinity, and not due to a boycott of McDonald’s.  He confirmed that although sales have been affected due to customers boycotting, the outlet has no plans of shutting down.

Peshawar-based journalist Arshad Mohmand also confirmed to Soch Fact Check that the outlet was closed because of the JI protest.

Soch Fact Check also contacted Laraib Ather, another Peshawar-based journalist who confirmed that the outlet is open and operational at the time of writing this article. Moreover, reviews of the Ring Road branch on Google Maps from 4 November 2023 and 6 November 2023 also confirm that the outlet was open and operational.

Confirming this fact, below are some of the photographs captured by our producer, Ibrahim Zauq, on 12 November 2023:

Additionally, according to Soch Fact Check’s research, there has been no coverage of a closure following the boycott in Peshawar, by any reliable news media outlets.

McDonalds’ stance on Israel

This philanthropic endeavour comes  amidst  the ongoing controversy surrounding McDonald’s worldwide due to its provision of free meals to the IDF. However, in an 18 October 2023 statement, McDonald’s Pakistan announced a substantial donation of PKR 10 million to support Gaza victims through the Edhi Foundation. In an earlier statement released on 14 October 2023, McDonald’s Pakistan said it is a locally run company with no affiliations to McDonald’s Israel.

On the other hand, McDonald’s Pakistan is still a franchise of McDonald’s Corporation, which is based in the US and receives a percentage of the profits from its global operations. Therefore, a boycott against McDonald’s Pakistan could potentially affect the revenue of the parent company  in an attempt to discourage the  Israeli franchise’s support to the IDF. 

Virality

The Instagram post by Yeni Şafak English received 8,998 likes and 332 comments as of 10 November 2023. The earlier post by the Facebook page ‘Hashtag Islamabad’ received more than 25,000 likes, 6,500 shares and 1,300 comments. The post was also re-shared on Facebook and Twitter by various users after it was published by Yeni Şafak, where it was viewed thousands of times.

Conclusion: The McDonald’s outlet in Peshawar was not closed due to a boycott by Pakistani customers, and an image of the closed outlet was shared with a false caption. The branch was shut temporarily during a pro-Palestine protest as a security measure. The outlet is otherwise  operational as usual,  as confirmed by local sources and online reviews. 

Background image in cover photo: Yeni Şafak English, Instagram. 

Recent photographs of McDonalds: Ibrahim Zauq

To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com 

 

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