Malaysia mini-mart outlet attacked after ‘Allah socks’ outcry

By Thomson Reuters Mar 30, 2024 | 1:04 AM

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – A Molotov cocktail was thrown into a Malaysian convenience store on Saturday, police said, after the chain’s top executives were charged with hurting religious feelings for selling socks with the word “Allah” printed on them.

Photos of the socks on sale at a KK Supermart store have sparked outrage on social media among Muslims who viewed the association of Allah – the Arabic word for God – with feet as offensive.

Religion is a sensitive issue in Malaysia, where mostly Muslim ethnic Malays account for two-thirds of its 34 million people, with large ethnic-Chinese and Indian minorities.

KK Supermart founder and Chairman Chai Kee Kan and his wife Loh Siew Mui, a company director, were charged on Tuesday with wounding religious feelings, along with three representatives of its supplier, state news agency Bernama reported. All pleaded not guilty.

On Saturday, a KK Supermart outlet in Kuantan district in the eastern state of Pahang was hit by a Molotov cocktail just before dawn, Kuantan police chief Wan Mohamad Zahari Wan Busu told Reuters by phone.

It was the second such attack, after a petrol bomb was thrown into another KK Supermart outlet in Perak state on Tuesday, Bernama reported.

Police have not yet identified a suspect in Saturday’s attack but were canvassing the area and checking close-circuit television recordings for evidence, Wan Mohamad Zahari said.

He said police believe the attack was linked to the sale of the socks, “but we are still investigating”.

The attack caused some storefront items to ignite, but the fire was quickly extinguished by workers in the store, according to media reports.

KK Supermart, the country’s second-large mini-market chain, had apologised over the socks, saying it viewed the matter seriously and had taken immediate action to stop their sale.

It also sued the supplier of the socks, alleging sabotage and damage to its brand reputation.

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by William Mallard)