A screen shot of the controversial Air Max 270 shoe produced by Nike. (ucanews.com photo)
Indonesia’s main Muslim clerical body, the Ulema Council, has thrown its support behind an online campaign calling for shoe and clothing giant Nike to withdraw a training shoe, which many Muslims say is insulting to Islam.
Nearly 39,000 people, including many Indonesians, have signed an online petition begun in January demanding the company recall its Air Max 270 training shoe because it sports a logo on the soles that looks like the Arabic word for “Allah” or God.
“I urge all Muslims and everyone who respects the freedom of religion or belief to sign this petition,” said Saiqa Noreen, who initiated the petition on change.org.
“We urge Nike to recall this blasphemous and offensive shoe and all products with the design logo resembling the word Allah from worldwide sales immediately,” she said on the website.
Anwar Abbas, general secretary of Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) told ucanews.com on Feb. 7 that the logo on the shoe did indeed resemble the word for Allah.
“We should not insult and humiliate something which is considered noble by other people,” Abbas said.
“I hope Nike recalls its product so that it will not create more problems,” he said.
He also urged Indonesian Muslims to remain calm and not over react.
“Don’t ransack [Nike stores],” he said.
Nike said in a statement that the logo was “unintentional” and not aimed at hurting religious sentiments.
"Nike respects all religions and we consider this very seriously," the statement said.
Several vendors in Jakarta told ucanews.com that they have not received the controversial shoes that were scheduled to hit Indonesian stores later this year.
Theresia Yulianty, 46, a Catholic and owner of a shoe store in East Jakarta, said she would not sell them in her store.
“I respect Muslims and believe all religious symbols should be respected.”
It is not the first time that Nike has angered Muslims.
The company was accused of insulting Islam in 1997 and was forced to recall about 38,000 pairs of shoes from all over the world because of the similar logo design.
Last week it was also reported that British retail giant Marks and Spencer were the subject of a boycott call following claims it was selling toilet paper featuring the Arabic word for God.