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Friday, June 14, 2024
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SOLE CONTROVERSY: MALAYSIAN BRAND ACCUSED OF INSULTING ‘ALLAH’ WITH SHOE DESIGN

In a recent controversy, a Malaysian footwear brand, Vern’s Holding Sdn Bhd, has come under scrutiny for a logo on the sole of its shoes that allegedly resembles the word “Allah” in Arabic script. The company, however, clarified that the logo is a “high-heeled shoe with straps” and apologized for any offense caused.

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The issue gained traction when Muhamad Akmal Saleh, the chief of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) Youth, shared a Facebook post on April 7, 2024, about an individual who had bought the shoes from a Vern’s outlet in Kuantan. Akmal acknowledged that the logo could be interpreted as a high-heeled shoe and its strap, but demanded an explanation from Vern’s within 24 hours, threatening a boycott if the company failed to do so.

Vern’s responded with a Facebook post, stating that the logo was inspired by the image of interconnected lines resembling a high-heeled shoe. However, the company acknowledged that the logo had “shortcomings” that may have led to its misinterpretation and offense. Vern’s removed the shoes from its shelves and production, offering refunds to customers who had purchased them.

Akmal accepted Vern’s explanation and said the “misunderstanding” had been cleared. However, the Malaysian police reported that eight complaints had been lodged against Vern’s in various states, and the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) was instructed to investigate the matter.

This incident follows the controversy over KK Mart’s “Allah” socks, which led to several petrol bomb attacks on the convenience store chain. The owner of KK Mart, Chai Kee Kan, and his wife were charged with “intentionally wounding the religious feelings of Muslims”. The controversy surrounding Vern’s shoe sole logo has yet to be fully resolved.

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Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal, the head of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s (Bersatu) youth wing, criticized the controversy, stating that it made Islam “look very petty and bad.” He urged Muslims not to be paranoid and to base their actions on knowledge rather than blind emotion.

The incident has sparked debate and discussion on social media platforms, with some users expressing outrage and others calling for calm and understanding. The situation is still developing, and it remains to be seen how it will be resolved.

Top image from Akmal Saleh/Facebook and Vern’s/Facebook.

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