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Wal-Mart pulls Osama bin Laden costume after pressure from Sikh community

Published: Monday, Sept. 30 2013 6:25 p.m. MDT

An Osama bin Laden costume sold by Wal-Mart and other major United States retailers has been removed after store management officials received complaints from the Sikh community.

According to the Huffington Post, the Sikh Coalition, a United States-based Sikh advocacy group, sent letters and made phone calls to several U.S. retailers for removal of the costume, which was being sold at Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, Sears and Rite Aid but has since been removed.

The bin Laden costume, developed by Fun World Games, includes a white turban and a full beard.

“If you lost a loved one during the 9/11 attacks or during our nation's war against Al Qaeda, or if someone attacked your father in a hate crime because he wears a turban, I doubt this costume would make you comfortable,” said Rajdeep Singh, director of law and policy at the Sikh Coalition, to the Huffington Post.

“We sincerely apologize to any customers who may have been offended by this costume,” the Wal-Mart spokesman said, who added the costume was not available in stores.

Letters sent out by the Sikh community include an image of the costume and a photo of bin Laden to showcase the similarities between the two outfits, according to Syracuse.com.

Letters sent by the Sikh Coalition to Amazon.com said the costume “insults those who lost loved ones during 9/11 terrorist attacks, insults American soldiers injured or killed in pursuit of Al Qaeda, and perpetuates negative stereotypes about turbans and beards that have led to violence and discrimination against Sikhs and other minorities.”

The complaints come on the heels of a recent assault on a Sikh Columbia professor and a Muslim woman last week. Dr. Prabhjot Singh was assaulted on Sept. 21 in what was described as a possible hate crime. The suspect or suspects allegedly yelled anti-Muslim statements, knocked Singh to the ground and punched and kicked him several times in the face.

Deacon Greg Kandra of the Deacon’s Bench explained why Wal-Mart is an "equal opportunity offender," noting how some previous costumes and products have offended other religions.

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

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