Nike is usually on the forward-thinking side when it comes to sneaker innovation, but the upcoming Air Max 720 release might not exactly fit into that category, especially since the controversy surrounding one minor design detail is proving to be a major issue for Muslims and the culture of Islam.

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A petition, started by a user named Saiqa Noreen about two weeks ago, is calling for the Swoosh to pull the Air Max 720 before its release this Friday (February 1). The reason behind such a bold request is due to the branding on the sole, which strikes a resemblance to the word “Allah” in its original Arabic script. While one can clearly see that the logo is in fact an amalgamated iteration of the words “Air Max,” there is also a case for the recall at hand as it does bear similar strokes to the Arabic word for God.

Here’s how Saiga Noreen explains it on the petition page for a better understanding of why it feels offensive:

“It is outrageous and appalling of Nike to allow the name of God on a shoe. This is disrespectful and extremely offensive to Muslim’s and insulting to Islam. Islam teaches compassion, kindness and fairness towards all.

After recalling trainers in 1997, which had a similar logo depicting the word Allah, Nike claimed to have tighten scrutiny on logo design. So why has a similar design been approved?”

Nike did in fact catch flack two decades ago for using a flame-inspired logo that also had a resemblance to the Arabic script for Allah. It ended with 38,000 sneakers being recalled that incorporated the design, including the Air Melt (seen here), and a $50K donation to an Islamic elementary school. In another 1995 incident, a billboard in California had to be removed due to a controversial “They called him Allah” tagline. (Source: Footwear News)
Image: Retro Sneakers

The controversy in this particular case is not so much the use but the placement of the logo on the outsole, which according to the petition, “will surely be trampled, kicked and become soiled with mud or even filth.” Nike sent out responses to select media outlets, including Footwear News and HYPEBEAST, with this official response:

“Nike respects all religions and we take concerns of this nature seriously. The AIR MAX logo was designed to be a stylized representation of Nike’s AIR MAX trademark. It is intended to reflect the AIR MAX brand only. Any other perceived meaning or representation is unintentional.”

— Nike Inc.

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