In a letter on his Facebook page, 40-year-old Nabeel Kaukab wrote to the company, saying that the word “Muslim” does not fit into any of the categories of banned words for NikeiD.
“As I was experimenting with different words to customize my shoes, I noticed that for Nike, neither Islam nor Muslim ‘fit within our guidelines.’ Based on your guidelines, I have to ask what category of banned words do you consider Islam & Muslim to fall under? Profanity? Inappropriate slang? Insulting or discriminatory content? Content construed to incite violence?”
The NIKEiD service enables customers to choose from a range of different materials and colors to create their own personalized style of shoes. It also allows customers to add their name, number, or a motivational message.
“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),” Kaukab’s angry letter continued.
“Either you believe the word Islam or Muslim incites violence or they are words that Nike doesn’t want to place on its products?”
Kaukab noted that the company’s service allows other religious terms like “Christ” or “Hindu,” so the exclusion cannot be based on religion.
Surprisingly, he claimed Nike’s guidelines also allow the names of violent groups and terrorist organizations to be put on its shoes.
“Unbelievably, even organizations/individuals associated with violence, like the Ku Klux Klan (you can safely go with Ku Klux or K K K), Daesh, Al Qaeda, Osama, PLO, IRA, Blood (think of the gang), Pol Pot or Dahmer, and groups with negative connotations like Commie or Fascist are just fine when customizing your shoes,” he wrote.
Other words reportedly not allowed on NikeiD included “Allah,” “Koran,” “Jihad,” and “ISIS.” Meanwhile, “Daesh,” an offensive Arabic acronym for the terrorist group, was permitted, so is “Quran.”
Kaukab said he was contacted by Nike’s customer relations team later on Saturday, and that they had had a “detailed and frank conversation.” According to his newest post, the company promised to immediately take “Muslim” and “Islam” off their banned words list and set “additional discussions and strategy sessions around properly engaging Muslim consumers.”