High street retailer Marks & Spencer has been forced to defend itself online after a viral video claimed the retailer was selling aloe vera toilet paper embossed with the Arabic script for ‘Allah.’
“Recently I bought toilet tissue from Marks & Spencer and when I opened one of them, it has the name of Allah, as you can see,” the unidentified man says in the now viral video, which has been viewed tens of thousands of times on various social media platforms.
Marks & Spencer has vehemently denied the claims, which were spread far and wide online in recent days. Outrage was so severe that an online petition has been set up calling on the retail giant to withdraw the offensive objects.
At time of writing, the petition started by a user named Musa Ahmed has already garnered 2,888 of its 5,000-signature goal.
“This is a very weasly [sic] and pathetic attempt to insult Islam. Nike did something similar in 1997 when they had ‘Allah’ written on their trainers but eventually they had to stop the production due to complaints,” Ahmed writes.
In 1997, Nike was forced to withdraw a line of sneakers with script resembling the Arabic rendering of the word Allah.
An M&S spokesperson has denied the toilet rolls feature the name of Allah, insisting that it’s “categorically of an aloe vera leaf.”
The motif on the aloe vera toilet tissue, which we have been selling for over five years, is categorically of an aloe vera leaf and we have investigated and confirmed this with our suppliers.
— M&S (@marksandspencer) January 19, 2019
But the viral clip has already sparked calls among the online Muslim community to boycott the high street retailer, under various iterations of the hashtag “#BoycottM&S.”
It takes your company nothing to change the design logo. Surely any conscious Muslim will feel offended. #boycottM&S
— Abdullahi Abdulrahim (@abdulailai) January 23, 2019
The clip has divided opinion online, with some clearly outraged at the cultural and religious insensitivity, while others decry the perceived hypersensitivity of those complaining.
Many were frustrated that M&S even entertained the complaints.
Ok, so this whole hooha with the M&S toilet paper is bloody ridiculous! It’s a bloody Aloe leaf printed on the roll. Ffs grow up people, you’re a bloody embarrassment.
— Amina Jane Ishaq (@jamiemumma) January 19, 2019
This is pathetic you should’t even respond to this dribble.
— some bloke (@tyinthesky) January 23, 2019
M&S you shouldn’t have even responded to this idiot! Don’t give him the time of day.
— OrangeT3mplar (@OT3mplar) January 23, 2019
I have never seen anything so ridiculous, it’s an embossed pattern of a plant, wipe your bum instead of raising trouble where there is none to be had🙄
— Eleanor (@violetbakes) January 19, 2019
YouTube user Jason King highlighted a phenomenon called pareidolia or “the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist.”
“For example, when you look at a cloud and it looks like a rabbit, or you look at the moon and see a face,” King wrote adding, “Religious people tend to suffer from it more than most. They see the face of Jesus in a slice of toast, or the name of God on toilet paper.”
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