03/22/2024, 16.27
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Socks with the word Allah spark outrage among Muslims

by Joseph Masilamany

The decision by the KK Supermart chain to sell the offensive time has become a national cause célèbre. Wading into the controversy, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim calls for accountability without going “overboard”. For Michael Kong, a non-Muslim politician from Sarawak, in multiethnic Malaysia, “it is important for us to show understanding towards other races and beliefs.”


Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) – Socks bearing the word Allah have caused a national controversy in Malaysia.

The offending piece of clothing was reportedly sold at an outlet owned by the KK Supermart & Superstore Sdn Bhd, a convenience store chain, in Petaling Jaya.

A video and a screenshot of the item have gone viral on social media, causing outrage among Muslims who are mostly ethnic Malays (a fact enshrined in the constitution).

The chain’s owner and founder, KK Chia, issued an apology, but was unable to reduce the tensions.

Police received 80 complaints nationwide, and recorded statements from eight individuals, including Mr KK Chia regarding the issue.

Malaysian King Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and Prime Minister Datuk Anwar Ibrahim also waded into the issue.

Speaking to reporters after breaking the fast yesterday, Prime Minister Anwar said that those responsible should be held accountable, but without going “overboard"

Reiterating the principle of not insulting Islam, he called for the punishment not to be excessive.

“If there are reports of transgression, there must be immediate action, [but] decisions should follow legal channels and proceed immediately,” he said.

Calling for a quick resolution to the controversy, he also insisted that the issue should not be seen “as if it is a major catastrophe in the country”.

AsiaNews spoke to two non-Muslim political leaders from the Christian majority state of Sarawak, Borneo Island, about the affair.

For State Assemblyman Baru Bian, a staunch Evangelical churchman, “authorities should take immediate action under the Penal Code against those responsible, to avoid further escalation of unnecessary comments by various parties, which may threaten the racial harmony of this country.”

Michael Kong, from the Democratic Action Party, noted that “In a multiracial and multicultural country like Malaysia, it is important for us to show understanding towards other races and beliefs.” Displaying and selling offensive items should be avoided, in his view.

“It is good that the retail store has come out to apologise promptly,” he said. “From what I've read, many of their stores even published the apology and this shows their sincerity and remorse.”

For Kong, this case shows the importance of being sensitive towards other ethnic groups and beliefs, which should provide common ground for all religions, based on the principle of loving one another.

“To love is also to forgive and give others a second chance to learn from any mistakes,” Kong explained. Thus, outrage ought not to be exploited lest we sow further divisions in the community.

“Instead, we should use this opportunity to come together and put our heads together to brainstorm on what we can do to ensure this does not happen in the future,” he added.

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