Chobani Faces Boycott From Far Right For Hiring Refugees

The founder of Chobani yogurt, Hamdi Ulukaya, finds himself at the center of a far right conspiracy theory against immigrants and Muslims.

Hamdi Ulukaya, the head of Chobani , is on the receiving end of an elaborate far-right narrative which bashes immigration, Muslims, and the Democratic Party, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The Chobani brand, with factories in Twin Falls, Idaho and upstate New York, is being accused of employing “too many” refugees.

Ulukaya, who is a Turkish immigrant of Kurdish origin, employs 300 resettled refugees in his factories and has also established a charitable foundation, Tent, which offers aid to migrants. His company has about 2,000 employees in total.

Chobani symbolizes a threat to national sovereignty and therefore warrants a product boycott for those who appreciate the likes of alt-right figure Donald J. Trump. Extreme right bloggers and social media users are lodging complaints against Ulukaya, saying that he “hires illegal Muslim immigrants” to work in his factories. Other boycotters claim that he is a Hillary Clinton supporter and does not hire American veterans.

According to Snopes, conservative news groups including WND and Breitbart have published false information about the brand, thereby fueling the flames of Islamophobia.

In a column Ulukaya wrote for CNN Money this January, he described why he believes that the international refugee crisis ought to be “hacked” by United States businesses, but never once mentioned anything about hiring Muslims. Yet, the latter appears to be a major concern and at the heart of the attacks.

Ulukaya wrote, “Businesses — and the hundreds of thousands of people they represent — have a major role to play. At Chobani, the food company I founded in the United States, we have hired hundreds of refugees in the past five years, and they are some of the most talented, dedicated people I've ever met.”

Shawn Barigar, the Democrat mayor of Twin Falls, called the entire Islamophobic scenario “crazy.” He explained that there are conspiracy theories which argue that Barack Obama’s administration pays him off to “help Chobani hire whoever they want” as part of the “Islamification of the United States.”

As an official from the Human Rights Watch stated, Chobani represents a business model which is a “xenophobe’s nightmare.”

Considering that the immigrant-founded company creates jobs and also has an inclusive hiring policy shows that it’s a beacon for a progressive way of looking at business today. 

Banner & thumbnail photo: Reuters

View Comments

Recommended For You