Major Clothing Brand SHEIN Appropriates Muslim Prayer Rugs And Clothing

“It is not acceptable to cherry pick a culture or religion and rename their items to your liking.”

Major Clothing Brand SHEIN Appropriates Muslim Prayer Rugs And Clothing

“It is not acceptable to cherry pick a culture or religion and rename their items to your liking.”

By

Mareena Emran
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

If you pay close attention to big market fast fashion brands, it’s quite apparent that cultural appropriation has existed for far too long. Just this week, fashion retailer brand SHEIN was exposed on Instagram for not only mislabeling South Asian clothing as sleepwear, but also misrepresenting Islamic prayer rugs, an important item used by Muslims to worship and complete the daily five prayers.

The prayer rugs were marketed as everyday household items, calling them fringe carpets and labelling them as Greek. They even had images of the Kaaba, the holiest site for Muslims. Because of the importance of prayer rugs, it’s absolutely necessary for them to be handled with care, but SHEIN’s false advertising of the product angered Muslims all across the platform (and rightfully so).

The reviews under the prayer rugs were appalling, with many customers saying that they’ve used the “carpets” for their pets and coffee tables. 

“For a customer to unknowingly buy this, step over it, and use it for decoration is not only a form of disrespect, but it’s also a form of cultural appropriation and they basically exploited their naive customers, who aren’t informed of what an Islamic prayer mat looks like, into making a quick buck,” said 19-year-old college student Nilo Gardezy from Arizona. “It’s not a coincidence that they stole this exact design that’s on almost 90%, if not all prayer mats.”

These items off of the SHEIN website were initially found by Khadija Rizvi, a student journalist based out of the United Kingdom.

Rizvi has been keeping a close eye on the website for a while, saying that she “was baffled” when seeing that the website advertised South Asian clothing as a normal pantsuit without any explicit indication that the marketed outfits have Desi origins. She initially posted this information on her story and many took notice of the issue.

As for the prayer mats, one of Rizvi’s followers brought it to her attention, and after looking on the website once again, took the product to her Instagram to make a detailed post. 

“As a journalist, and activist, I believe that it’s my duty to use my platform to raise awareness of the corners that people sometimes overlook in society,” said Rizvi.

Rizvi’s post ultimately garnered the attention of nearly 43,000 users, with beauty influencer Nabeela Noor even taking notice. 

“I did not expect my post to blow up the way that it did, I shared my own outrage and it turned out that tens of thousands feel the same way,” said Rizvi. “This led to the items being removed, we did it together.”

SHEIN has made a comment on the situation, but has yet to make a formal apology. I mean, after religiously appropriating Muslims, AND misleading customers into buying Desi clothes as sleepwear, it’s the least they can do.

“I definitely believe that brands need to be held accountable, big or small,” said Rizvi. “It’s not acceptable to cherry pick a culture or religion and rename their items to your liking. I think SHEIN taking down the prayer mats is a step in the right direction, but nowhere near what we want to achieve.”

Rizvi, along with many of her followers feel the same way, with some even going as far as to making petitions. One petition made by 16-year-old Ummay Rabbab has already gotten around 4,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. 

“I found out about the SHEIN situation through social media, as I saw everyone posting about how it’s very disrespectful and harmful to the Muslim community,” said Rabbab. “After seeing it, I immediately started to look for ways that I could stop SHEIN from profiting off of the prayer mats. This led me to create a petition, and before I knew it, people were signing and sharing it around.”

Rabbab’s efforts have extended even further, reaching out to SHEIN via email and persistently messaging the brand over socials.

“They apologized over Twitter, but their account doesn’t even have a fraction of the amount of followers they have on Instagram,” said Rabbab. “I’m trying my best to get SHEIN to publicly apologize on Instagram, and until then, we will not stop.

READ MORE: Dear Non-Black Muslims, Your Silence Is Deadly

But even after making two, *very generic* apologies, and taking down the prayer mats from their website, the Desi clothing continues to live on their website, being purchased by hundreds of unknowing customers everyday. It doesn’t just stop at Desi clothing, but even pieces like Kaftan dresses that are traditionally from Arab origins. 

Now tell me, is a Kaftan being called a “tribal print split back draped longline dress” appropriate? If you dig even deeper, listed on the SHEIN website are outfit pieces with Islamic calligraphy written on them that are ALSO being marketed as tribal. It’s outright disrespectful and it needs to go. 

SHEIN is only one example of how large companies can exploit the clothing of certain cultures, and can even go as far to appropriate religions too. SHEIN, if you’re going to sell South Asian and Middle Eastern clothing, perhaps think about getting some South Asian or Middle Eastern models. Just a thought.

So, after all of this, my biggest takeaway is that I personally need to be more mindful of the clothing I buy. I am absolutely guilty of buying shirts that have Chinese characters on them without the full meaning, especially when I was younger. The characters on my outfit were probably appropriating the Chinese culture and I had no idea, and now that it’s happening to the clothing I personally wear, I now understand that this is a real issue. 

In the future, I absolutely want to do more research behind the companies that I purchase my clothing from, and SHEIN is a company that I believe needs to make changes to the clothing options they offer on their website. 

UPDATE: 7/5/2020

SHEIN has released a formal apology on their Instagram page following the outrage of the Muslim community on social media. 

As many continue voicing their frustration with the company, Rizvi and Noor have responded to SHEIN with messages of optimism.

“Thank you for your statement and I am sure others will be pleased to see it too,” Rizvi commented. “I hope this leads on to careful reviews of all your products and a safe open dialogue with your customers. We can all move forward together in a positive way.”

Noor commented similarly, revealing that she had spoken with the company directly in hopes to catalyze change.

“Thank you for your statement and commitment to change – and a thank you to George, Head of the Brand for having an open dialogue with me about this,” Noor commented. “I will continue the conversation and hope that this will serve as an opportunity for growth and a deeper sensitivity and appreciation for all communities.” 

SHEIN stepping up to apologize is definitely putting them in the right direction in terms of acknowledging that there are faults with the merchandise they sell on their website, but there is still so much more to be done. Here’s hoping that they keep their promise in taking further action in making SHEIN a more culturally and religiously aware company.

AOC Pens Letter Against Israel’s Annexation Of Palestinian Territory With Support Of Lawmakers

Ocasio-Cortez’s office says the trigger for conditioning aid includes settlements and other policies that are “laying the groundwork” for annexation.

U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez penned a letter opposing Israel’s annexation proposals of Palestinian land with the backing of a dozen lawmakers and is gathering legislators’ signatures on a letter urging the Trump administration to take steps to block Israel’s planned annexation. A coalition of progressive Democratic politicians, rights groups and Jewish groups are also calling for withholding US military aid to Israel in response to planned annexation of Palestinian territories by Israel.

The letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the annexation would “lay the groundwork for Israel becoming an apartheid state,” and pledges that the lawmakers would work to block future aid to Israel.

Ocasio-Cortez’s office said the trigger for conditioning aid includes settlements and other policies that are “laying the groundwork” for annexation.

 “The United States must remain committed to a future in which all Israelis and Palestinians live with full rights, dignity, and democracy,”  Ocasio-Cortez and a dozen other legislators said in the letter.

“We therefore urge you to make clear to the Israeli government that such a move is unacceptable,” they said in the letter. 

“We will include human rights conditions and the withholding of funds for the offshore procurement of Israeli weapons equal to or exceeding the amount the Israeli government spends annually to fund settlements, as well as the policies and practices that sustain and enable them,” the letter also stated.

“Members of Congress should not be expected to support an undemocratic system in which Israel would permanently rule over a Palestinian people denied self-determination or equal rights.”

The statement was endorsed by more than 20 advocacy groups, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Arab American Institute (AAI), CodePink, Jewish Voice for Peace Action and IfNotNow.

Senator Bernie Sanders and other progressives who signed the letter issued statements opposing annexation in strong terms.“I have long believed that the United States needs to engage in an even-handed approach toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Sanders said in a statement. 

Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, said the Netanyahu government uses aid “to formalize an apartheid system.” 

“Unilateral annexation is a violation of international law, a violation of Palestinian human rights, and directly counter to American values of democracy and self-determination,” Rep. Ilhan Omar said.

 

Five other letters are circulating in the US Jewish community demanding accountability for the Israeli government and concrete actions by US Jewish institutions if a planned annexation goes forward. Those letters have drawn more than 3,200 signatures, according to IfNotNow, a US Jewish group that opposes the occupation. “It is time to stop holding America’s number one recipient of military funding – Israel – to a lower standard than we hold all other countries, exempting it from consequences when it violates our most basic values,” said Emily Mayer, political director of IfNotNow.

The letter was condemned by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as harmful to America’s interests before the statement or its signers were finalized.

Netanyahu aims to start the process of annexation by Wednesday, saying he wants to begin annexing West Bank territory in line with President Trump’s plans. But with recent developments and stiff international criticism, it’s uncertain whether Israel will ultimately follow through on the explosive annexation initiative.

READ MORE:  Israel Expected To Move Forward With Annexation Plans, Leaving Palestinians Hopeless

Photo Of Three-Year-Old Kashmiri Child Sitting On Grandfather’s Corpse Creates Outrage

Viral picture of the three-year-old has caused an uproar with the family accusing armed forces of killing the victim.

Photo Of Three-Year-Old Kashmiri Child Sitting On Grandfather’s Corpse Creates Outrage

Viral picture of the three-year-old has caused an uproar with the family accusing armed forces of killing the victim.

By

Mirza Fardeen
Photo from viral video footage, courtesy of witnesses.

A photo showing a three-year old child sitting on his grandpa’s corpse in Sopore town of Indian-administered Kashmir has outraged residents of the region with the family of the deceased accusing the security forces of killing the 65-year old civilian Bashir Ahmed Khan during a clash with the rebels in the world’s most militarized region.

Soon after Ahmed’s death, the photos of his grandson from the encounter site flooded the internet, including a heart-rending shot showing the child sitting and crying on top of his grandfather’s corpse.

A series of pictures by an unidentified person were widely shared on social media shortly after the gun battle. Hundreds of angry people staged anti-India protests, accusing the government forces of using the child’s images as PR stunt. Social media users also slammed a viral video that purportedly showed a member of the security forces standing over Ahmed’s dead body. 

Suhail Ahmed, the victim’s son, said on Thursday that his father, Bashir Ahmed Khan (deceased), was “dragged out of his car and shot in cold blood” in front of his 3-year-old grandson during a gun battle on Wednesday between Indian troops and rebels in northwestern Sopore town. He said troops later placed the child on his father’s chest and reportedly took pictures.

Ahmed’s family has released a video message on social media, accusing Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel of dragging him out of his car and shooting him at point blank range, the Jammu & Kashmir Police denied the claims and said he died in the exchange of fire with rebels. The family said the man was a small-time petty employee who earned 6,000 rupees ($80) per month.

While this photo triggered an uproar on social media, with individuals online demanding justice for the family, accusing security forces for placing a 3-year old at the center of a propaganda war and doing theatrics and PR stunts with 3-year old life. The right-wing and the ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were busy mocking the picture of dead civilians. A spokesman for India’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP faced criticism for mocking the picture of the dead civilian.

 

 

The right-wing and BJP IT Cell were glorifying the Indian Army for saving the toddler, demeaning the opposition leaders, accusing Pakistan of sponsoring the rebels, accusing leftists of white-washing the terror acts of militants, calling out Islamic-Jihad and terrorism, with anti-Muslim bigots hawking hate against Muslims and spitting their regular communal hatred. But nowhere showing a grain of humanity for the dead civilian and his 3 year old grandson who witnessed such an incident. For them such incidents are all about political gains and demonizing the opposition. 

Hundreds of people in Kashmir staged protests on Wednesday in the wake of the killing. Later on Wednesday, hundreds assembled at the man’s funeral near Srinagar, shouting “We want freedom.”

READ MORE: UN Removes Saudi Arabia From ‘Blacklist Of Warring Parties’ For War Crimes In Yemen

Fourth Of July In A Time Not Worth Celebrating

How can I take part in showcasing patriotism for a country that does not guarantee safety for my Black brothers and sisters?

Fourth Of July In A Time Not Worth Celebrating

How can I take part in showcasing patriotism for a country that does not guarantee safety for my Black brothers and sisters?

By

Amirah Ahmed
Photo - Spencer Platt/Getty Images

 

The Fourth of July is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It’s what some may call an “American tradition” to jubilantly celebrate the day with firework shows, barbecues, and red, white, and blue printed everything. But for any American that doesn’t benefit from the privilege of a typical White identity, the day leaves a bitter after taste. 

 

As a Muslim woman, the claim of “independence” is incredulous to me. Independence in my definition does not include unrightful surveillance. It does not include the invasive procedures taken every time I enter an airport to ensure that my Muslim-ness doesn’t pose a threat to travelers. Independence is never in the sense of stolen autonomy that swells every time a Muslim woman’s hijab is torn from her head. There is no independence in the shame little Muslim boys feel when slurs are hurled at them in schools that are supposed to keep them safe. There was never independence in the bound hands of a Muslim man being deported to a land he’s never stepped foot in when he has every right to this “land of the free.” Does the independence garnered from Britain over 200 years ago still hold true for Americans today? I think not.

How can I take part in showcasing patriotism for this country when it does not guarantee safety for my Black brothers and sisters just trying to go for a run, reach for a wallet, or wear a black hoodie? Is it even morally acceptable to celebrate a country in a time when its leaders are okay with denying the sanctity of childrens’ lives simply because they were not born within the same borders? I don’t think so. There was no independence in the death of another Black man denied his right to live. There will never be independence in a mother’s cries for her baby as they are pulled away from each other. If there is independence in the ear splitting shriek of schoolchildren hiding behind textbooks with the barrel of a gun staring them down, then it’s not an independence I am willing to take pride in.

I yearn for the day that I can wear this country’s colors knowing that all its citizens are safe and valued. But that day is not today, nor can I see it in the near future. I want to raise my children in a country that goes out of its way to make sure they know that they are welcome too, in all their Muslim glory. I want to live in a country that will celebrate my veteran father regardless of his olive complexion and Muslim name. I want to celebrate a country that takes accountability for its past and strives to make up for it through more than just empty apologies and false promises for a better future.  

Take a look around you.: Is this the country your ancestors were dreaming of when they decided to take a chance at a better life? Does this country fight for all of your friends and family? This 4th of July weekend, don’t mindlessly scroll past the news stories of another preventable injustice without first finding out how you can use your own privilege to help out. If you are going to celebrate your patriotism this year, make sure you’re celebrating the ongoing fight for independence for the 40% of America that doesn’t happen to be White.

READ MORE: Dear Non-Black Muslims, Your Silence Is Deadly