Myanmar: Outrage Over ‘Buddha Shoes’

Myanmar netizens are outraged over the ‘Buddha shoes’ created by a company called Icon Shoes. Nang Nyi was one of the netizens who left a complaint in the facebook page of Icon Shoes:

I wrote a complaint in the FB wall of Icon Shoes Company just now. They should not do so. I have no idea what motivated them to create those designs. Two pages of them will appear if you type “Icon Shoes” in FB search box.

Yan Yan Chan, a famous rapper, commented [my] on that post by providing a link to the feedback form of the Icon Shoes website:

You can complain here. FB page is not that useful.

A couple of famous local bloggers joined the discussion as well. They requested their readers to send complaint letters against those shoe designs. Some netizens also created protest images which featured the Icon Shoes logo together with the controversial shoes. One Ko Ko Aung reminded the company not to insult religion:

Regardless of who they are, religion should not be insulted. There are a number of religion related problems recently.

Nyein Chan expressed his frustration as well:

What if we put Jesus or Muhammad on our shoes? Shame on you.

The image asking netizens to send complaints to Icon Shoes for using Buddha images in their shoe designs. Photo - Lin Oo (Psychology)

The image asking netizens to send complaints to Icon Shoes for using Buddha images in their shoe designs. Photo – Lin Oo (Psychology)

Lin Oo (Psychology) observes [my] how Buddha images are casually used by many people in designing products:

We have been seeing that Buddha statues are used as fancy stuff in bars and recreation centres regardless of other people's religious beliefs.

Now, American based Icon Shoes produced shoes with Buddha image designs. Buddhists around the world are also complaining about this. We can also send feedback through their Facebook page.

Another community blog called Moemakha urged [my] readers to show protest by flooding the company with complaint letters:

We found out that a shoe company called Icon Shoes based in Califonia is selling shoes designed with Buddha images and floral arabesque. Three designs of such shoes are produced in USA and are being sold within the price range of $29 to $149. Their “About Us” page mentioned Icon Shoes was founded by an anonymous filmmaker from Hollywood in 1999.

We are completely against the improper use of Buddha images on shoes which insult the graciousness of Buddha. We sent a complaint mail to Icon Shoes. We request you, our readers, to send protest messages in their Facebook page.

Khin Sandar Ko also posted her opinion on Icon Shoes:

their motto says “Icon is for the art lover and the woman who loves shoes and handbags. We support artists by paying royalty for the use of their art” …

What I wrote is “Icon never respects other people's valuable things.
We support shoe designers by insulting other people's religion.”

Kyaw Myo Khaing shares his observation on the repeated insult to Buddhism in many places:

Akon did sexy dance in front of Buddha statue. There's a bar called Buddha Bar in France. We've once seen the use of Buddha images on clothing. And now, on shoes! Enough is enough, guys. It will be too shameful for our 21st century society if Buddhists are repeatedly insulted just because they do not protest or voice out enough. It's like the babies couldn't get snack because they do not cry enough. The nature of Buddhism is to promote calm and peace. Please do not bully us for the sake of fancy art.

On August 5, 2012, although many people thought that Icon Shoes seemed to have removed the controversial products from their website, it is believed that only users from Singapore where most of the people complained live are blocked to access their website .  But the complaints asking not to use Buddha images on their shoes are still being posted on their Facebook page almost every minute.


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