The misunderstood “Buy Muslim First”

(THE MOLE) – When it was first created in January, the Muslims-only secret Facebook group called the Malaysian Muslims Economic Association, barely has any follower.

Today, however, such was no longer so.

In mere few weeks, the invitation-only group has amassed more than a million followers; many of whom have been busy updating the list of products -mainly groceries- made by Muslim companies.

The ever-renewing list was to cater to those wanting to participate in the ongoing consumer campaign that called upon Malaysian Muslims to prioritise buying Muslim products whenever possible.

Unlike other typical campaigns, the “Buy Muslim First” (BMF) was not initiated by any particular public figure or political parties, Instead, it is a grassroots driven movement that came about following the Jawi khat controversy.

But critics, particularly Pakatan Harapan politicians, have deemed it as a boycott movement that needed to be thwarted as it could sour the country’s racial relations which had been going through a series of rough rides over the past few weeks.

Prominent Muslim businessman Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin of Mydin Hypermarket however, argued that BMF is not a boycott because no one had called for the Muslims to stop buying products made by non-Muslims.

“If the Malays buy goods at night markets, does that indirectly mean that the Malays are boycotting goods sold at hypermarkets?” was Ameer Ali’s rhetorical poser.

Yesterday, the Subang and Shah Alam Consumer Association president Dr Jacob George had urged the government to use the law and take immediate action against those who kick-started the BMF campaign so as to safeguard racial harmony.

That being said, lawyer Fatihah Jamhari said it is unlikely that those propagating any priority buying campaign the likes of BMF had broken any law simply because such a thing is well within the ambit of freedom of speech and choice.

“The root of the movement is not to boycott non-Malays or non-Bumiputera products and services. Rather, BMF is to vocalize support for Malay and Bumiputera businesses through choice of purchasing power. It’s a conscious decision,” said Fatihah.