Nike refuses to customise sneakers with 'Muslim' and 'Islam'

Published: February 14, 2016


A Muslim man, while browsing the online NikeiD store, found out on Thursday that the retail athletics giant does not allow the words ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslims’ to be inscribed on customised footwear.

“Dear Nike,” Nabeel Kaukab wrote on his Facebook account, “I have a sincere question for your Nike ID team. Today, I was trying to buy a pair of Air Jordans and was checking out the customisation features, one of which includes the ability to put short text (up to six letters) on them. As I was experimenting with different words to customise my shoes, I noticed that for Nike, neither ‘Islam’ nor ‘Muslim’ ‘fit within our guidelines.'”

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Nike’s guidelines specifically exclude “profanity,” “inappropriate slang,” “insulting or discriminatory content,” “content construed to incite violence,” “material that Nike wishes not to place on products” and anything that “violates another party’s trademark or intellectual property rights.”

The 40-year-old New Yorker urged Nike to explain whether it thought the mention of the words Islam or Muslim incites violence or if it just doesn’t want to be associated with Muslims.

“As far as I (or any rational person) can assume, neither word is profanity, slang (appropriate or inappropriate), insulting or discriminatory (more than a billion people globally find identity in being called Muslims). Considering there is no trademark or [intellectual property] around just the word Islam or Muslim, by process of elimination that leaves your customers to assume only the following: Either you believe the word Islam or Muslim incites violence or they are words that Nike doesn’t want to place on its products?” he added.

Kaukab also pointed out that Nike allowed ethnic slurs as well as names of groups which were actually associated with violence, such as, kaffir, hebe, macaca, nips, hadji (or hajji), polack, Ku Klux Klan, Daesh, Al Qaeda, Osama, PLO, IRA, Blood, Pol Pot, Dahmer, and even Donald Trump.

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However, on Friday, Kaukab again took to Facebook and said that Nike’s spokesperson Kate M had reached out to him to inform that Nike is taking words ‘Muslim’ and ‘Islam’ off the banned words list for user customisation.

The Nike spokesperson further explained that after the 1997 protest, Nike became more focused on issues relating to cultural sensitivity and about five to six years ago made the proactive decision to prevent certain Islamic terms from appearing on its shoes (for example Allah, Koran, Muslim, Islam, etc) via NikeiD.

Other words not allowed on NikeiD include “Allah,” “Koran,” “Jihad” and “ISIS” (though “Daesh,” a more insulting term for the terrorist group, is permitted, as is “Quran,” an alternate spelling of “Koran”).

This article originally appeared on Huffington Post.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Leveshka Tolstoy
    Feb 14, 2016 - 12:53PM

    Is this Nabil Koukab even a Muslim?I appreciate NIKE for not inscribing the words “Islam” or “Muslims” on the shoes as it would have incited and provocated a large number of Muslims.Idiots like Nabil Koukab must always be discouraged in trying to provocate Muslims all over.Recommend

  • schumaila
    Feb 14, 2016 - 1:32PM

    Is this guy mad??? why would anyone inscribe the word Muslim or Islam on a footwear?? Are you in your senses? Or pretending to be a Muslim? Recommend

  • kashmir
    Feb 14, 2016 - 2:17PM

    I wonder which kind f muslim is this.. wants to inscribe Muslim/ Islam on shoes. Shame on such personRecommend

  • Point
    Feb 14, 2016 - 2:20PM

    It’s disrespectful to write Holy words on something that goes to your feet. I am glad NIKE is more knowledgeable Recommend

  • Liaqat Ali
    Feb 14, 2016 - 3:01PM

    It looks like somebody wanted to create a mischeif of inscribing words considered sacred by muslims on the shoes which will be considered insluting by muslims. Mind it , puting on shoes is insluting and Nike wa doing the right thing for not allowing it. But author of ther artcile still wants to create trouble iand is present not printing on shoes as insluting . Not correct and shameful. Recommend

  • Mamu
    Feb 14, 2016 - 3:40PM

    I as a muslim will even object to the use of names like Jesus on a shoe. We don’t revile other faiths.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Feb 14, 2016 - 9:02PM

    Now that Nike is alerted to their doing the
    right thing, lets hope they stick to it.Recommend

  • Cosmo
    Feb 14, 2016 - 9:03PM

    Damned if you, damned if you dont!
    Whay are muslims all over the world so insecure?!
    Nike please go ahead and inscribe whatever u wish to. I have no right to dictate your company what is appropriate and what not.
    My religion is way to secure to be offended by an inscription on a footware!
    Am just amused reading some of the comments to this article. Grow up people.Recommend

  • Raj Kafir
    Feb 14, 2016 - 10:30PM

    Once Mohammad Azharuddin, an Indian cricketer, signed the Nike sneakers, and there were riots in India and Ummah world for writing word ” Mohammad” on a ” Shoe”Recommend

  • Raw is War
    Feb 15, 2016 - 6:48AM

    If Nike “writes” Muslim on the shoes, there will be riots in the Muslim world. They are sane to ignore this idiot.Recommend

  • Zalmay Khan
    Feb 15, 2016 - 3:51PM

    I am at odds to understand y this guy who has no better thing in this world to do then to inscribe these names out of all the worlds items on shoes……i mean if they had done it in the first place then it would have been offensive to Islam….stop making issues out of nothing…..Recommend

  • Ibrahim
    Feb 15, 2016 - 6:48PM

    Thank you Nike for your thoughtfulnessRecommend

  • Raja
    Feb 16, 2016 - 2:54AM

    Nike has more sense than idiots like Nabeel Kaukab.Recommend

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