Nike is being called upon to remove an Air Max sneaker with a design that some people believe resembles “Allah” in Arabic.
On Jan. 19, Saiqa Noreen began a Change.org petition that had more than 5,400 signees on Sunday who condemned the brand’s use of a font emblazoned with “Air Max” on the sole, citing that it’s offensive to some Muslims and the word “Allah” should not be allowed on a shoe, particularly on the bottom, where it touches the ground and is thus likely to become dirty.
“This is disrespectful and extremely offensive to Muslim’s and insulting to Islam. Islam teaches compassion, kindness and fairness towards all,” the Change.org user wrote. “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.”
Nike’s communications team responded to FN with comment after the publication of this story. The brand stated, “Nike respects all religions and we take concerns of this nature seriously. The AIR MAX logo was designed to be a stylized representation of Nike’s AIR MAX trademark. It is intended to reflect the AIR MAX brand only. Any other perceived meaning or representation is unintentional.”
In 1997, Nike was forced to recall 38,000 pairs of sneakers worldwide after outrage sparked in Great Britain over a flame-like logo which some believed resembled the word Allah. In addition to recalling the sneakers — a range with the names “Air Melt,” “Air Grill,” “Air B-Que” and “Air Bakin'” — the Swoosh donated $50,000 to an Islamic elementary school in the U.S., to be used toward the creation of a playground.
Nike ran into a similar issue in 1995, when it removed a billboard near the University of Southern California that had an image a basketball player alongside the words, “They called him Allah.”
“After recalling trainers in 1997, which had a similar logo depicting the word Allah, Nike claimed to have tighten[ed] scrutiny on logo design. So why has a similar design been approved?” Noreen wrote.