Pharrell Williams may be having one heck of a year in terms of music and fashion, but not everyone is so “Happy” with the global superstar. Down in South Africa, a reported 1,000 protesters gathered outside his concert at the GrandWest Casino to object his connection to a South African superstore on Monday (Sept. 21).
The producer and rapper is serving as the style director for Woolworths, a food and clothing retailer with a focus on giving back to the community. Williams is also assisting the company in education funding. The protesters say that the company, which organized the concert, has trade ties to Israel. Many protesters, who were led by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) movement, had less than positive things to say about Williams’ affiliation with the company.
“By working with Woolworths, Pharrell supports Israel, a country that supports the oppression of Palestine, a country that is the new apartheid state,” said protester Ashraf Salie. The national coordinator for BDS- South Africa, Muhammad Desai, told reporters, “Over 551 Palestinian children under 16 were killed in six weeks a year ago. Woolworths and Pharell were silent.” The protest comes after BDS won a recent High Court case aimed at preventing protesters from rallying at the concert. It was dismissed.
Woolworths says that less that 0.1 percent of their food comes from Israel and that they do not source produce from the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. The concert still went on as scheduled, and Woolworths tweeted about how great the show was, using the hashtag #PharrellWithWoolies, while numerous protestors used the hashtag #PharrellProtest.