Anyone who wants to dress like Osama Bin Laden for Halloween this year may have to make their own costume, as major retailers across the United States have pulled manufactured versions from the shelves.
The costumes offended the Sikh Coalition, who sent letters to Wal-Mart, Amazon and other major retailers complaining that they solidified "negative stereotypes about turbans and beards that have led to violence and discrimination against Sikhs and other minorities."
Said Rajdeep Singh, Director of Law and Policy at The Sikh Coalition, “If you lost a loved one during the 9/11 attacks or during our nation's war against Al Qaeda, or if someone attacked your father in a hate crime because he wears a turban, I doubt this costume would make you comfortable."
In an email to the Huffington Post, a Wal-Mart representative said, "We disabled this item for purchase and are in the process of immediately removing it from our site. We sincerely apologize to any customers who may have been offended by this costume."
Before pulling the costume from stores, Wal-Mart sold it as "Turban Beard Adult Halloween Instant Costume," omitting the name of the former al Qaeda leader. Amazon had originally sold the costume as "Fun World Adult Men’s Osama Bin Laden Middle East Costume Turban + Beard."
Although most Americans associate head wraps with the Muslim faith, the vast majority of men in the country who wear turbans are Sikh, and their religion hails from India rather than the Middle East. This misunderstanding has led to countless incidents of violence or taunting of Sikhs, who have nothing to do with Islamic terrorists.
In an incident last month, Dr. Prabhjot Singh, a Sikh Columbia University professor, was attacked walking down the street in Manhattan. The perpetrators called him “Osama” and “terrorist,” knocked him to the ground and beat him with punches to the head until his jaw was fractured. His entire face was bruised and swollen after the attack.
Some stores, including Sears and Rite Aid, are still carrying the Bin Laden costume despite the Sikhs’ concerns.