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Store Attacked For Selling ‘Allah’ Socks

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The item seen as sacrilegious has caused outrage among Muslims in Malaysia

A Molotov Cocktail was thrown at a KK Super Mart, one of Malaysia’s major convenience-store chains, in a city in the east of the country on Saturday, according to police. The company’s top executives have been charged with hurting religious feelings, after its shops sold socks with Allah, the Arabic word for God, printed on them.

Two-thirds of the country’s population of 34-million are Malay muslims and, in Islam, the association of feet with God is deemed highly offensive. Photos of the controversial socks attracted widespread outrage online during the past weeks, also coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan. 

KK Super Mart, which is Malaysia’s second-largest chain of convenience stores, reportedly found 14 pairs of socks with ‘Allah’ imprinted on them, at three locations of its 881 outlets.

Saturday’s attack on one of its stores occurred in the city of Kuantan. Police said the incendiary device caused a small fire at the entrance and nobody was hurt, according to Reuters. City police chief Wan Mohamad Zahari Wan Busu told the news agency that he believes the attack could be linked to the socks, “but we are still investigating.”

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Another attack occurred last Tuesday, when a bottle filled with petrol was thrown into a KK Super Mart in Perak state, 100 kilometers north of the capital Kuala Lumpur, according to state media Bernama. That device failed to explode and there were no injuries, local newspaper China Press reported.

Last Tuesday, company CEO Chai Kee Kan, who is ethnic Chinese, and his wife Low Siew Mui, a company director, were charged with “deliberately intending to hurt … religious feelings.” Three representatives of the supplier Xin Jian Chang were also charged. All have pleaded not guilty. If convicted, they could face up to a year in jail and a fine, or may receive a fine only. The hearing is set for the end of April.

KK Super Mart has apologized for the incident, saying it takes the matter “seriously” and has stopped the sale of the product, and that it has also sued the supplier. The supplier has also apologized, saying the “problematic socks” were inside a stack of thousands of pairs with different designs, which had been ordered from a China-based company.

According to the Star newspaper, KK Super Mart has put on display an apology note at its shops across the country.

The new King of Malaysia Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, in a rare royal rebuke, has called for ‘stern’ action against those found guilty, “whether this incident was intentional or otherwise, whether the socks were imported or produced in local factories.”

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