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Popular online retailer Shein apologizes for selling swastika necklace after backlash

Online retailer Shein has once again apologized for one of its product listings. The site pulled an item labeled "swastika pendant necklace" from its website after being slammed on social media for promoting anti-Semitism before issuing an apology Friday, stating that the listing was meant to portray a Buddhist swastika. 

"We made a gigantic mistake by selling a product that's hurtful and offensive to so many of you, and we're so, so sorry," the site wrote on Instagram. "There's simply no excuse for our lack of sensitivity in doing so."

"The Buddhist symbol has stood for spirituality and good fortune for more than a thousand years, and has a different design than the Nazi swastika which stands for hate — but frankly, that doesn't matter because we should've been more considerate of the symbol's hurtful connotations to so many people around the world, and we didn't," the site continued.

Shein said it recently established a committee to review products to ensure a similar incident does not arise in the future. It also said it is pulling all religious items from the site. 

"The only thing we can do is profusely apologize and reassure you that we're making major internal changes so this does not happen again," it concluded. "We know we have a lot of work to do to deserve the love and support you've shown us these last few years. But please believe that we in no way support or condone racial, cultural and religious prejudice or hatred. We love all of you and hope you will stay with us." 

Earlier on Thursday, @hereforthetea2, an Instagram page that highlights drama in online communities, shared a post featuring the necklace, which shows the "swastika" label and a clear image of the necklace on Shein's website. Some screenshots of the listing indicate it was sold for $2.50, while others showed it listed for $4. 

Popular influencer Nabela Noor also wrote on Instagram that she was "so disgusted by @sheinofficial's sheer ignorance and blatant disrespect towards other cultures and religions." 

"I am contacting the Head of Brand today and bringing this to his attention," she said. 

Outrage quickly spread across Twitter and Instagram, with thousands of users expressing disgust with the company. While some argued that the symbol stems from religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, the majority of commenters disapproved and pointed out that it is now largely associated with the Nazis, who adopted the ancient icon in the 1930s as an emblem of their fascist regime. 

"This is ACTIVELY THREATENING to the Jewish community," one user tweeted. "Do NOT let Shein get away with this."

"STOP SHOPPING AT SHEIN," another tweeted. "Not only do they use child labor and fast fashion, they are literally selling a SWASTIKA NECKLACE. Please speak up about this."

Last week, Shein also came under fire for selling rugs resembling Muslim prayer mats with descriptions like "fringe trim carpet." Some of the rugs featured illustrations of the Kaaba, one of Islam's most sacred sites, and mosques.

Two days later, Shein removed the items and issued a public apology on its Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

UPDATE: @sheinofficial has now removed most of these items from their website, which is what we wanted; however there’s been no acknowledgement, statement or apology from them. . I am disgusted. I am livid. @sheinofficial is also PROFITING off muslim prayer mats (janemaz/sajadah) by selling them as ‘fringe trim carpets’ for people to use casually around the house. A few have the Kaaba printed on them. THIS IS HIGHLY OFFENSIVE, Not only is it disrespectful but they once again renamed and stole credit from a whole faith this time, by failing to label it as a muslim prayer mat; which allows people to use it casually as a decorative mat. *A prayer mat is an important piece of fabric, used by Muslims, placed between the ground and the worshipper during their five daily prayers. It is NOT a carpet and must be treated with respect and you don’t ever wear shoes on it. It's important for us to acknowledge the disrespect that is committed here, and that action must be taken to remove this product from their line. Corporate organisations can be difficult to take down, but you can do your bit by: -BOYCOTTING THEM -RAISING SOCIAL MEDIA AWARENESS (can really make a difference) - SENDING EMAILS . They are a company based in china, which makes it more difficult to take certain actions, therefore tagging and raising awareness which will enable people to boycott them is the way forward until they take down the items, acknowledge and apologise. If anyone has any ideas of what more we can do, DM me. . Thanks to @toobzz__ for bringing my attention to this. . #shein #sheinofficial #muslim #prayermat #culturalappropriation #islam #china

A post shared by Khadija Rizvi 👩🏽‍🎨 (@s.khadija.r) on

"To our community — we made a serious mistake recently by selling prayer mats as decorative rugs on our site. We understand this was a highly offensive oversight and are truly sorry," the brand wrote. "Since it was brought to our attention, we immediately removed the products from our site and asked our vendor to stop selling to others."

"We also formed a product review committee with staff from different cultures and religions so a mistake like this doesn't happen again," the site added. "As a global brand, we vow to do a much better job in educating ourselves on different cultures, religions, and traditions to ensure our diverse community is respected and honored. We offer our sincerest apology to all whom we have hurt and offered, and hope we can earn your forgiveness."

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