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Malaysian retailer and supplier charged for selling ‘Allah’ socks | Religion News

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Sale of socks during the holy month of Ramadan prompted outrage among Muslims who regard the product as insulting.

A Malaysian court has handed down charges against a retail chain and supplier after it put socks emblazoned with the word “Allah” on sale.

Eight people were charged on Tuesday with hurting religious feelings after photos of the offending articles of clothing caused outrage on social media.

Five executives from the KK Super Mart convenience store chain, including CEO Chai Kee Kan and his wife, Loh Siew Mui, who serves as a company director, were charged with “deliberately intending to hurt … religious feelings”, according to the charge sheet.

Three representatives from supplier Xin Jian Chang were also charged. KK Super Mart is suing the supplier for “sabotage” over losses and damage to the chain’s reputation.

All defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, they face up to a year in jail, a fine, or both penalties combined.

Religion is a sensitive issue in the Muslim-majority nation. The sale of the socks, which amounted to just 14 pairs, according to KK Super Mart, during the holy month of Ramadan prompted particular outrage among fasting Muslims.

The case has even drawn a rare royal rebuke from Malaysia’s king, who called for an investigation and “strict action” against any party found guilty.

Sultan Ibrahim salutes
The 17th King of Malaysia, the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, salutes the guard of honour at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on January 31, 2024 [Hasnoor Hussain/Pool/Reuters]

‘Lowly status’

Photos of the socks had spread on social media, many viewing the association between the word, “Allah”, and feet to be insulting.

“The word ‘Allah’ is highly esteemed in the eyes of Muslims,” said Mohamad Na’im Mokhtar, Malaysia’s religious affairs minister, according to the Bernama news agency.

“Allah is our creator and the act of putting Allah at our feet is an insult.”

Alwani Ghazali, a senior Islamic lecturer at Malaya University, told radio station BFM that the socks were demeaning because feet are associated with a “lowly status”.

“Socks stink, do you agree? Are you happy to smell your socks after using them all day?” she said. “As a Muslim, I think it’s inappropriate and (the issue) is a big deal.”

KK Super Mart has apologised, saying it views the matter “seriously” and has taken action to stop the sale immediately.

Supplier Xin Jian Chang also issued an apology, saying the “problematic socks were part of a larger shipment of 18,800 pairs ordered” from a company based in China.

The five KK Super Mart executives were freed on bail. Deputy Public Prosecutor Masri Mohamad Daud told reporters the next hearing will be on April 29.

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