More than 20,000 people have signed a petition created by a Muslim who says Nike, the sportswear giant, “needs to recall offensive shoe with Allah’s name” from the worldwide market.
I would support this petition if Nike did, indeed, make a shoe with the intention of offending Muslims since that would be completely unnecessary and inappropriate… But (surprise) that’s not what’s happening.
The shoe in question, the Nike Air Max 270, does not insult Muhammad or even feature imagery from Islam. It just has a stylized font, common among brands like this, that vaguely resembles the Arabic word for “Allah.”
Here’s what the Change.org petition says:
Nike has produced the Nike Air Max 270 shoe with the script logo on the sole resembling the word Allah in Arabic, which will surely be trampled, kicked and become soiled with mud or even filth.
It is outrageous and appalling of Nike to allow the name of God on a shoe. This is disrespectful and extremely offensive to Muslims and insulting to Islam. Islam teaches compassion, kindness and fairness towards all.
After recalling trainers in 1997, which had a similar logo depicting the word Allah, Nike claimed to have tighten scrutiny on logo design. So why has a similar design been approved?
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.
There is zero chance that Nike intentionally put “Allah” in Arabic on its shoes, especially considering the logo doesn’t match up that well… (It’s actually a stylized version of the words “Air Max”) So these people are demanding a recall because of what they see in the design. It would be like trying to return an ice cream cone because the toppings resembled your mortal nemesis.
The point is: our brains see patterns. It’s just what they do. It’s not the companies’ fault that their designs look, to us, like something that could possibly offend our imaginary friends.
Nike has responded as you’d expect, denying any intentional offense.
Nike said in a statement the logo was a stylized representation of the Air Max trademark. “Any other perceived meaning or representation is unintentional,” it said. “Nike respects all religions and we take concerns of this nature seriously…”
Nike ran into a similar problem in 1997. The Council on American-Islamic Relations protested the company’s logo on certain athletic shoes, saying it resembled the word “Allah” in Arabic script. Nike said at the time it regretted any misunderstanding, explaining that the logo was meant to look like flames and recalled a line of shoes.
Despite the past recall, Nike should draw the proverbial line here. If you are offended by a product that unintentionally resembles your religious figure’s name, that’s your problem.