Walmart pulls turban/beard terrorist costume

Screen shot of Walmart's website taken on September 27, 2013, in which the retailer was selling a Halloween costume that includes a turban and beard on a man wearing military-style clothing. The item bore a distinct likeness to Osama Bin Laden and has since been pulled from sale. (Source: Walmart)

Walmart has ceased sale of a controversial Halloween costume called the “Turban Beard Adult Halloween Instant Costume,” a fake turban and beard that was promoted using a likeness of Osama bin Laden.

According to the Sikh Coalition, who lobbied the retailer on Friday to stop selling the product, RiteAid has also agreed to stop selling the product as well. The Sikh Coalition has also been in contact with retailers Sears and Amazon, and the supplier of the costume, Fun World, to request that this product no longer be sold:

Apart from promoting stereotypes about turbans and beards that lead to violence against Sikhs and other minorities, these 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. — Sikh Coalition.

In Salon, writer Mary Elizabeth Williams offers context in relation to the issue of racist and other inappropriate costumes that are commonplace during Halloween:

If you want to be an insensitive jackass, you’re always going to have plenty of opportunity. But we are fortunate to live in an era in which insensitive jackassery is also going to be called out for what it is, one in which major corporations are going to be challenged on the question of whether they want to participate in hateful bigotry and stigmatizing. It won’t stop the determined, but then, if you think it’s cool to parade around in a manner that’s racially tone-deaf or clueless about mental illness, chances are you’re not confining your idiocy to one night a year anyway.

Read the full Sikh Coalition bulletin here, and the Salon article here.


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