A man is outraged after Nike refused to customize a pair of Air Jordans with the word 'Muslim' or 'Islam'.
Nabeel Kaukab, 40, of New York, penned an angry letter to the company on Facebook saying the word 'Muslim' doesn't meet any of the guidelines for banned words for NikeiD.
Nike's guidelines exclude 'profanity', 'inappropriate slang', 'insulting or discriminatory content', 'content construed to incite violence', 'material that Nike wishes not to place on products' and anything that 'violates another party's trademark or intellectual property rights' from being written on its shoes.
Mr Kaukab wrote on his Facebook page: 'As far as I (or any rational person) can assume, neither word is profanity, slang (appropriate or inappropriate), insulting or discriminatory (more than a billion people globally find identity in being called Muslims).
'Considering there is no trademark or IP around just the word Islam or Muslim, by process of elimination that leaves your customers to assume only the following:
'Either you believe the word Islam or Muslim incites violence or they are words that Nike doesn't want to place on its products?'
Huffington Post speculates the reason Nike might not put the word 'Muslim' on its shoes is because of an incident involving a stylized version of the word 'air' on one of their shoes that accidentally resembled the word 'Allah' in Arabic.
Nike was forced to withdraw 38,000 pairs of shoes worldwide, issue an apology and ended up paying for a playground at an Islamic elementary school in the U.S.
Other words not allowed on NikeiD include 'Allah,' 'Koran,' 'Jihad' and 'ISIS'. 'Daesh,' an offensive term for the terrorist group, is permitted, as is 'Quran'.
In the letter Mr Kaukab notes the company allows other religious terms like 'Jewish' or 'Hindu', so the exclusion can not be religion-based.
It also allows the names of violent groups on its shoes, Mr Kaukab writes in his letter.
'Unbelievably, even organizations/individuals associated with violence, like the Ku Klux Klan (you can safely go with Ku Klux or K K K), Daesh, Al Qaeda, Osama, PLO, IRA, Blood (think of the gang), Pol Pot or Dahmer, and groups with negative connotations like Commie or Facist are just fine when customizing your shoes,' he said.
He also noted that the word 'Trump' was allowed, and said that was likely a violation of the Donald's intellectual property.
Mr Kaukab said he's not a religious activist and just wanted to bring attention to the discrepancy. I'm a believer in engagement.
'I don't think this is an issue about Nike "hating Muslims" or being discriminatory in its practices (at least I assume so).
'I think this is an issue of how many corporations (and frankly organizations in general) just don't get Muslims, both in the United States and abroad,' Mr Kaukab told the Huffington Post.
A Nike spokesman said: 'Our intention was to be culturally sensitive to placing religious Muslim references on footwear via our NikeiD customization program.
'In an effort to do this we filtered out the words "Muslim" and "Islam". We realize that decision was misplaced and they will be added back into the NikeiD options.'
By Kalhan Rosenblatt
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.