Walmart, the American retail behemoth, and Rite Aid, America’s third largest drugstore chain, have bowed to pressure and pulled a “turban and beard” costume design from their shelves this Halloween season. The costume was pulled after a group called the Sikh Coalition demanded that retailers stop selling the cheap, amusingly tacky garb.
The Sikh Coalition, which describes itself as a community-based human rights organization, asserted on Friday that the costumes “insult those who lost loved ones during the 9/11 attacks and insult American troops who sacrificed their lives in our nation’s war against Al Qaeda.”
The group said the costumes also further “stereotypes about turbans and beards that lead to violence against Sikhs and other minorities.”
Walmart and Rite Aid responded within hours by announcing the removal of the items from their shelves and online store.
Sears will also stop selling the costume.
The Sikh Coalition is generally satisfied with the outcome of the kerfuffle.
“This is like selling a Hitler costume,” analogized Rajdeep Singh, the Coalition’s director of law and policy. “Businesses have a legal right to sell offensive items, but they also have a moral responsibility to use good judgment and common sense. We are thankful to Walmart and RiteAid [sic] for promptly removing these items and hope other sellers will follow their example.”
The last paragraph of the Sikh Coalition’s press release urges “all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly.”
The fearful decisions by the brass at Walmart, Sears and Rite Aid to embargo the “turban and beard” costumes comes a little over a week after Columbia University professor Prabhjot Singh was allegedly brutally beaten and slurred as “Osama” by unknown assailants in New York City.
Prabhjot Singh is Sikh and wears a turban as well as an impressive beard.
Sikhs share no affiliation with Al-Qaeda or Islam.
The Sikh Coalition also contacted Amazon, but has failed to convince the web giant as of Tuesday.
“Turban Beard Instant Costume” is still available from some politically-incorrect Amazon affiliates including UnbeatableSale, Inc. and 7th Avenue Store. Prices range from $16.89 to $24.00 (plus shipping).
Amazon says that the costumes come from Fun World Costumes — “50 years of seasonal product fun, honesty and integrity” — as well as Costumes For All Occasions.
Amazon describes the costume as a “turban and beard costume kit” containing an “elastic strap-on beard and mustache with white cloth turban.” One size fits all.
The army jacket evocative of Osama Bin Laden is not included in the costume kit.
Some media outlets, such as the website Metro, have erroneously suggested that army jacket is included.