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The Real Story Behind the Brunei Boycott

posted on May 15, 2014

At Al-Jazeera America, Serene Fang and Michael Okwu trace the timeline of the protests and boycotts that have engulfed the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air, celebrity hot spots owned by the sultan of Brunei. The star-studded controversy seemed to begin over anti-LGBT laws implemented in Brunei, but are, according to Fang and Okwu, actually rooted in a longstanding labor dispute over the company “laying off workers and hiring non-union employees.” Labor organizers needed a hook to popularize the union’s plight and found news of Brunei’s sharia-based penal code; they quickly began a campaign that went viral. “Thanks to social media,” Fang and Okwu write, “the union got its boycott, even if it had to wrap itself in a different cause to get results.”

Read at Al Jazeera America