Customers ask how Ikea justifies having three stores in Saudi Arabia
The Ikea backlash: Angry customers ask how chain justifies having stores in Saudi Arabia – where you can be executed for being gay – but boycotted GB News because it didn’t fit with its ‘humanistic values’
- Ikea was one of ten organisations to pull adverts from the broadcaster last week
- Swedish retailer faced customer backlash after bowing to mob of woke activists
- Consumers instead lambasted the company for operating in Saudi Arabia
Ikea was last night accused of ‘breathtaking hypocrisy’ after joining a boycott of new TV channel GB News – despite opening stores in Saudi Arabia where homosexuality can be punished by death.
The Swedish retailer faced a fierce customer backlash after it bowed to an online mob of woke activists and suspended advertising with the channel, saying that it was not in line with its ‘humanistic values’.
Andrew Neil, the chairman of GB News, has said he launched the channel because ‘the direction of news debate in Britain is increasingly woke and out of touch with the majority of its people’.
Ikea, the world’s largest furniture company, was one of ten organisations to pull its adverts from the broadcaster last week following an online campaign led by Left-wing pressure group Stop Funding Hate, which started vilifying the channel months before it went on air last Sunday. Ikea said it was investigating how its advertisement appeared on GB News, adding: ‘We have safeguards in place to prevent our advertising from appearing on platforms that are not in line with our humanistic values.’
But the move spectacularly backfired as consumers lambasted the company for operating in Saudi Arabia, where it has opened stores in the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran. Homosexuality is illegal under sharia law in Saudi Arabia and punishable by death, while women cannot apply for a passport or travel outside of the country without their male guardian’s approval.
Critics highlighted how Ikea was forced to apologise in 2012 after it was revealed that images of women had been airbrushed from its Saudi catalogue in an apparent bid not to upset Arab customers
Andrew Neil, the chairman of GB News, has said he launched the channel because ‘the direction of news debate in Britain is increasingly woke and out of touch with the majority of its people’
Ikea’s Riyadh store is just five miles from Deera Square – known as Chop Chop Square where public executions take place.
‘I’m gay and Ikea has outlets in Saudi Arabia where homosexuality is illegal and people are killed for being gay,’ said Mark Wilkes, 60, a corporate headhunter from North London, in a message to Ikea on Twitter. ‘Does this align with your “humanistic values”?’
Dr David Jeffrey, a politics lecturer at Liverpool University, sent this message to the firm: ‘How does having… stores in Saudi Arabia, where being gay is punishable by death and women aren’t allowed to live their lives freely, align with your “humanistic values”?’
David Waddell, a senior BBC producer, wrote: ‘Ikea has stores in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, the Philippines, Russia and Egypt. But an Ofcom-regulated news channel in the UK is a step too far for its “humanistic values.” ‘
Critics also highlighted how Ikea was forced to apologise in 2012 after it was revealed that images of women had been airbrushed from its Saudi catalogue in an apparent bid not to upset Arab customers.
Ikea was last night accused of ‘breathtaking hypocrisy’ after joining a boycott of new TV channel GB News – despite opening stores in Saudi Arabia where homosexuality can be punished by death
A Swedish newspaper revealed how a Swedish version of the catalogue showed a mother standing next to her child in an Ikea bathroom, with a man in the background.
In the Saudi catalogue, the man and child remained but the image of the woman had been deleted. Ikea last week rowed back on its decision to suspend advertising on GB News, saying it was ‘simply too soon to make an informed decision’ on whether to advertise with the broadcaster. Vodafone and MoneySuperMarket have also reconsidered and said they are not boycotting the channel.
Last night, a spokesman for Ikea, whose Saudi stores are run by a franchisee, said it regrets the airbrushing of women from its Saudi catalogue and that it revised its guidelines following the incident.
Energy supplier Ovo Energy also faced a backlash for boycotting GB News. Customer Jim Skinner, from King’s Lynn, Norfolk, said: ‘How dare you censor my choice of news channels. I am a customer of yours but I will NOT renew with you at the end of my contract.’
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