The "Allah Socks" Blasphemy Scandal That Is Rocking Malaysia

A major convenience store chain in Malaysia and its supplier are at the center of a controversy after a Malaysian court charged the store’s top executives and the supplier for hurting religious feelings after socks with the word “Allah” were found on sale in one of its shops.

After photos of the offending socks became viral on Malaysian social media and caused outrage, five people, including the CEO of KK Super Mart, Chai Kee Kan, and his wife, Loh Siew Mui, who was also a company director, were charged on March 26th with “deliberately intending to hurt … religious feelings.

Aside from the KK Super Mart executives, three representatives from the supplier, Xin Jian Chang, were also charged for hurting religious feelings over the incident. KK Super Mart is also suing Xin Jian Chang for “sabotage” over losses and damages to the convenience store’s reputation.

All the defendants pleaded not guilty. They could face up to a year in prison, a fine, or both if convicted. The case also drew a rare royal rebuke from Malaysia’s king, who called for an investigation and “strict action” against any guilty party.

The controversy came after photos of socks with the word “Allah” were found in some of KK Super Mart’s branches. According to the convenience store chain, 14 pairs of socks were sold, which also prompted anger among Malaysians since they were on sale during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Many in the Muslim-majority country found the association between feet and Allah to be insulting.

The word ‘Allah’ is highly esteemed in the eyes of Muslims,” Mohamad Na’im Mokhtar, Malaysia’s religious affairs minister, said, according to the state-owned Bernama news agency. “Allah is our creator, and the act of putting Allah at our feet is an insult.

Alwani Ghazali, a senior lecturer at the Academy of Islamic Studies at the University of Malaya, also said that putting the word “Allah” on socks was demeaning because feet were associated with “lowly status.

Socks stink, do you agree? Are you happy to smell your socks after using them all day?” Ghazali said. “As a Muslim, I think it’s inappropriate, and (the issue) is a big deal.

Malaysian media also reported on the morning of March 26th that there was a firebombing attempt on a KK Super Mart outlet in the northern state of Perak. No injuries were reported after a bottle full of kerosene was thrown into the shop.

KK Super Mart issued an apology for the socks, saying it views the matter “seriously” and had taken action to stop the sale immediately. Xin Jian Chang also apologized for the incident, saying the “problematic socks were part of a larger shipment of 18,800 pairs ordered” from a company based in China. 

The KK Super Mart executives charged were freed on bail, and the next hearing on the case will be held on April 29th.

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