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US Sikh group wants Osama costume off shelf, stores agree

PTI  New York, October 01, 2013
First Published: 22:34 IST(1/10/2013) | Last Updated: 22:41 IST(1/10/2013)

A Sikh advocacy group here has asked big retailers such as Walmart to discontinue selling an Osama-bin-Laden-type Halloween costume.


The group says that the attire for the festival dedicated to the dead and spirits perpetuates "negative stereotypes" about turban, which leads to violence and discrimination against the community.

The action by Sikh Coalition comes less than a week after a mob of young men assaulted Columbia University professor Prabhjot Singh and called him "Osama" and "terrorist" in a New York neighbourhood.

The costume comprising a white turban, long gray beard and military camouflage jacket is being sold at Walmart and Amazon for the upcoming Halloween holiday. Sikh Coalition manager Simran Kaur has written to Amazon president Jeffrey Bezos that the costume "insults those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, insults American soldiers injured or killed in pursuit of al-Qaeda, and perpetuates negative stereotypes about turban and beard, which have led to violence and discrimination against Sikhs and other minorities." listed the costume as "Fun world adult men's Osama bin Laden Middle East costume turban + beard", while Walmart described it as "Turban beard adult Halloween instant costume".
The retailers have since withdrawn the costume from sale, and it is no longer available for their websites. A recent Stanford University study, "Turban Myths", showed 70% Americans misidentified turban-wearers in the US as Muslim, Hindu or Buddhists.

The study suggested that nearly half of America believed "Sikh" was a sect of Islam, and associated the turban with slain 9/11 terrorist Osama bin Laden.


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