French Business Lobby Urges Stoicism Over Middle East Boycotts

France’s Medef business lobby on Monday urged French companies to remain stoical in the face of boycotts of their products in several Middle Eastern countries.

Medef head Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux said French principles of secularism and freedom of speech must take precedence over companies’ development plans.

“Of course this is bad news,” he said during an interview with RMC radio, referring to the boycotts, though he said they remained localized so far.

Roux de Bezieux also rejected calls to boycott Middle Eastern products, saying: “Don’t answer stupidity with stupidity.”

Several Arab trade associations announced boycotts of French products amid rising tensions following President Emmanuel Macron’s crackdown on what the government described as Muslim extremists, triggered by the murder of 47-year-old Samuel Paty, who was stabbed and beheaded near the Paris school where he worked.

Hashtags such as #BoycottFrenchProducts were trending in countries including Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Al-Jazeera reported on Sunday.

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