U.S. pop star Pharrell Williams kicks off his tour of South Africa in Cape Town amid protests from pro-Palestinian supporters angry at his promotional deal with retailer Woolworths, which has trade ties with Israel. Cape Town has a large Muslim population.
Pharrell Williams is an American singer-songwriter, record producer and fashion designer, with eleven Grammy Awards.
Woolworth SA announced April 15 that they were collaborating with Pharrell Williams with their "Are You With Us" campaign to "uplift education in South Africa. For food farming that goes easy on the planet. And to create fashion that's not just cool, but also sustainable."
The South African branch of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) movement, objects to Israel's 48-year-old occupation of territories where Palestinians seek an independent state.
Woolworths imports pretzels, figs and pomegranates from Israel and says that less than 1 per cent of its imports from Israel come from the occupied territories and its imports comply with government guidelines.
A BDS South Africa board member, Braam Hanekom, was warned that Pharrell "is about to face the biggest backlash any artist has faced in South Africa in over 30 years, since the days of apartheid."
Date written/update: 2015-08-23