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Nike Inc. will recall shoes carrying a logo that offended Muslims becau

June 24, 1997 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Nike Inc. will recall shoes carrying a logo that offended Muslims because it resembled the word ``Allah″ in the Arabic script, the shoemaker and an Islamic group said today.

Under the written agreement between Nike and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nike will apologize to Muslims and recall shoes with the logo. In exchange, the council will urge Muslims worldwide not to boycott Nike products.

The agreement was announced at a CAIR news conference today in Washington.

Executives from the Islamic council said the agreement was a victory for Muslims in the United States.

``We wanted to reinstate confidence in our community that whenever they see something offensive, there could be something done about it, that through organized work they can stand up for their principles and show people they have to be respected,″ said Nihad Awad, the Islamic council’s executive director.

Awad told the news conference that having the name of Allah on shoes is particulary direspectful because the shoes ``get dirty, muddy and sweaty.″

He said his group would have called for a global boycott of Nike products, especially in affluent Muslim communities in the Middle East and Asia, had the two sides failed to reach a settlement.

Nike spokesman Roy Agostino said company officials are pleased with the settlement.

``From the outset we have sought to avoid any offense to Muslims,″ he said. ``We have, through this process, developed a deeper understanding of Islamic concerns and Islamic issues and ... have opened up a broader dialogue with members of the Islamic community.″

Agostino said it was the first time that Nike has recalled a product.

He said about 38,000 pairs will be recalled. In addition, 30,000 other pairs with that logo have been diverted from markets in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey to other markets.

The dispute between CAIR and Nike began when the athletic footwear company used a logo meant to look like flames on a line of shoes to be sold this summer with the names Air Bakin’, Air Melt, Air Grill and Air B-Que.

The Washington-based Islamic advocacy group said the design resembled the word Allah, Arabic for God. It is used by Muslims and Christian Arabs to refer to the deity.

Nike said it caught the problem in September, long before the shoes went into production, and designed a new logo, but Muslims said the new design still resembles the word Allah.

In addition to apologizing and recalling the shoes, the two sides said Nike would work with the council to improve the company’s understanding of Islamic issues and would donate a $50,000 playground to an Islamic elementary school somewhere in the United States.

This is the second time in recent years that Nike was criticized by the council.

In 1995, after the council complained, the shoe company removed a billboard near the University of Southern California that depicted a basketball player with the headline, ``They called him Allah.″