The Moroccan McDonald's franchise faced controversy last week after it released a children's “Happy Meal” toy which included a map of Morocco. The borders on the map separated Western Sahara from Morocco; the Western Sahara is a disputed territory between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front. The controversy ended with the Moroccan franchise issuing an apology to the citizens of Morocco.
Although Moroccan bloggers were mute about the issue, the Western Saharan blogosphere and its friends commented on the story. Nick Brooks, whose blog Sand and Dust focuses primarily on the region, wrote of the apology:
I guess this is understandable – small considerations such as respect for international law and UN resolutions, and squeamishness about territorial aggression, occupation of neighbouring territories, and widespread human rights abuses obviously take a back seat when it comes to the important business of selling burgers and making lots of money.
Goufia, a diaspora blogger residing in Canada, calls for a boycott of McDonald's along with several other bloggers:
We learned from the press (01.12.08) that McDonalds Moroccan subsidiary has withdrawn some ‘Happy Meal’ toys including a map with the legally recognized borders between Western Sahara (WS) and Morocco, pretending to replace them with other toys with a map including WS inside Moroccan borders. This would mean a clear violation of International Law.As you are surely aware, WS is a Non-Self-Governing Territory as declared by the UN, militarily invaded and occupied by force by Morocco, whose sovereignty is recognized neither by UN nor by any country in the world. Morocco systematically violates human rights of Saharawi citizens, refusing to accept several UN resolutions and preventing their right to self-determination. This attitude of McDonalds Moroccan subsidiary discredits McDonalds image and reputation.We urge McDonalds to take the necessary actions to ensure that their Moroccan subsidiary respects and does not violate International Law on behalf of McDonalds…