Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

After a social media outcry‚ a shoe retailer had to apologise to the South African Muslim community for its distasteful use of the Prophet Muhammad’s name on their latest shoe items.

On Thursday, Johan Wasservall‚ the MD of Shoe City — a member of the Pepkor Group — met the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) to tender the company’s apology for its "ignorance" about when the name of Muhammad could be used.

"Wasservall was given fair opportunity to present his case and gave a detailed explanation of how the improper use of the name of our most beloved Prophet‚ Muhammad (peace be upon Him)‚ came to be‚" MJC president Shaykh Abrahams said in a statement.

This is after Shoe City implemented a style reference name for shoes instead of a stock-keeping unit number. A post showing a price tag with the name Muhammad on its sole and outside the shoe’s box reached the council at the weekend after circulating on social media.

"The list of names was provided by their IT specialists who Googled the most popular men’s names‚" said the statement.

The council accepted Shoe City’s apology, "and was assured that all shoes carrying this price tag will be recalled, and that a small committee would be established to investigate the list of names being used in future labelling opportunities."

On the council’s request‚ Shoe City wrote a formal apology on its official South African Facebook page on Monday.

"We wish to sincerely apologise for offending our Muslim customers … All these names are generated automatically from a database. Unfortunately‚ due to the automated nature of the process‚ Muhammad was one of the names that was generated. This was an oversight on our part‚ an oversight for which we take full responsibility‚" read the post.

The company recalled the items in question from all their stores and the offensive labelling will be removed.

"We have removed the name from our database; the database of names is being reviewed to prevent this from happening again‚" said Shoe City.

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