A Halloween costume is being yanked from store shelves and online displays, as sellers respond to claims the get-up is ethnically offense and potentially inflammatory. The costume photo seems to look a lot like Osama bin Laden.
The Turban and Instant Beard Costume, manufactured by Fun World Costumes, consists of a white cloth turban and a ragged grey streaked polyester bear, which fastens with an elastic strap. Product photos show a male model in the costume, wearing a military-style camouflage top, which is apparently not included.
The Sikh Coalition, based in New York City, urged major merchants to remove the costume, contending that the beard and turban looked too much like Osama bin Laden, the late El Qaida leader deemed responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In letters to chief executives at several top retailers, Sikh Coalition Advocacy Manager Simran Kaur said the ethnic costume "perpetuates negative stereotypes about turbans and beards that have led to violence and discrimination against Sikhs and other minorities."
Kaur also commented that the Turban and Instant Beard Costume was an affront to all who lost loved ones in the 9/11 tragedy and subsequent events.
Halloween Masquerade e-tailers like CostumeCraze, CostumeKingdom, HalloweenCostumes.com, HalloweenExpress, and NightmareFactory still offered the Beard and Turban Instant Costume, as of October 3, with prices ranging from $19.99 to more than $35. The costume is no longer available at Amazon , RiteAid, Sears, or Walmart, although it may still be found on eBay.
Each year, trick-or-treaters and reveling masqueraders sport costumes and masks to depict sinister and infamous individuals. The question arises, time and again, of where the line of appropriateness should be drawn. Does the Turban and Instant Beard Costume cross that line?
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