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Nike Inc. will recall 38,000 pair of shoes carrying a logo that offende

June 24, 1997 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Nike Inc. will recall 38,000 pair of shoes carrying a logo that offended Muslims because it resembled the word ``Allah″ in Arabic.

Under a written agreement announced Tuesday, Nike will also apologize to Muslims for any unintentional offense. In exchange, the Council on American-Islamic Relations will urge Muslims worldwide not to boycott Nike products.

Nike officials said they were pleased with the settlement.

``While we never intended to offend, we did; we have done everything possible to communicate our sincere apologies and to address issues related to the distribution of any products offensive to the Muslim community,″ said Martin Coles, a Nike vice president, in a statement from Beaverton, Ore.

``I believe we emerge from this process with a deeper understanding of Islamic sensibilities and a stronger bridge into Muslim communities,″ he added.

Nike spokesman Roy Agostino noted it was the first time the shoemaker has recalled a product. In addition to the 38,000 pairs that will be recalled.

30,000 pairs with that logo have been diverted from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey to less-sensitive markets.

CAIR executives called the agreement a victory for the estimated 6 million 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.

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.

``Many ... may not understand how offensive it is to have the name of God on a shoe,″ said Awad. ``The shoe gets dirty. It gets muddy. It gets sweaty. We believe this is disrespectful to the name of God.″

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.

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Nike said it caught the problem in September, long before the shoes went into production, and designed a new logo. But Muslims rejected the new design because they said it still resembled 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.″

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