Pharrell Williams concert venue in South Africa drops legal bid to fend off BDS

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (JTA) — Organizers of a concert by American pop star Pharrell Williams have abandoned their legal action against pro-Palestinian demonstrators protesting against his presence there.

The Sun International hotel group had launched an urgent court interdict on Sept. 14 to limit the number of protesters outside Williams’ Sept. 21 concert in Cape Town, according to ewn.co.za. But the group withdrew its court application, due to be heard last Friday, against the local branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, or BDS.

BDS South Africa spokesman Kwara Kekana described the hotel company’s move as an about-face.

“For us it’s not only a Palestine victory, but it’s a victory for freedom of expression,” he said.

Pro-Palestine protesters have been agitating against the American pop star since he concluded a promotional deal with major national retailer Woolworths, due to its trade ties with Israel. Woolworths denies sourcing produce from the West Bank or other disputed territories.

Last month, BDS South Africa board member Braam Hanekom said, “[Williams] is about to face the biggest backlash any artist has faced in South Africa in over 30 years, since the days of apartheid. He is walking into a very angry, unhappy environment because he has chosen to walk with Woolworths,” he told Reuters following a decision by the City of Cape Town to deny an application by thousands to protest at Williams’ concert.

Hanekom threatened that protesters may block roads on concert nights or rally inside venues. A second concert is due to take place in Johannesburg.

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