The giant American retailer Walmart has been forced to withdraw its “Pashtun Papa” Halloween costume after being accused of peddling racist stereotypes.
The outfit sold for $39.95 (£25) and featured the loose-fitting shalwar kameez of the sort favoured by Muslims living in South Asia, along with a waistcoat, cap and shaggy grey beard.
“Whether you’re making a serious political statement or staging a political parody,” said the online description, “this authentic-looking outfit is sure to fit the bill!”
“Nothing is sacred this Halloween. Shock your friends with this Islamic costume.”
The Pashtun tribe live predominantly in north-west Pakistan and across Afghanistan, and make up the bulk of the Taliban.
The image sparked outrage – particularly in Muslim countries where thousands of people took to Twitter to condemn the outfit.
“This is offensive and discriminatory,” said one user. “Will you even think of having a KKK costume.”
Many Muslims said they were horrified at the idea that an “Islamic costume” would scare people at Halloween, and instead suggested sarcastically that people should go out trick or treating dressed as “moderate Muslims”.
As the criticism mounted throughout the day, Walmart was forced on to the defensive.
A spokeswoman told Buzzfeed that the costume had been sold by a third-party vendor and that it would be removed from the company’s website immediately.
‘We have strict policies with our third party vendors, and it’s very important to us that products on the site don’t offend groups of people, or minorities.’ she said.
A short time later Walmart announced via Twitter that the offending item was no longer available and apologised to customers.
Meanwhile, in the UK, shops have come under increasing pressure not to sell costumes that demonise the mentally ill. Last year Asda and Tesco were forced to withdraw “mental ward” outfits.
And 10 days ago, Toys R Us quietly withdrew a range of drug dealer dolls based on the television series Breaking Bad.
Source: The Telegraph