MUSLIMS WANT NIKE TO APOLOGIZE : COUNCIL SAYS LOGO RESEMBLES ALLAH IN ARABIC SCRIPT.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded Wednesday that Nike Inc. apologize for using a logo on athletic shoes that resembles the word ``Allah'' in the Arabic script.
Nike said the logo was meant to look like flames for a line of shoes to be sold this summer with the names Air Bakin', Air Melt, Air Grill and Air B-Que.
The company said it caught the problem six months ago, long before the shoes went into production. A new logo separates the A in ``Air'' from the IR, Nike spokeswoman Vizhier Corpuz said.
``We absolutely regret any misunderstanding, and we regret that this appeared in retail stores,'' Corpuz said at Nike headquarters near Portland, Ore. ``We have changed the design to ensure that there's no confusion between the word `air' and any other word.''
``Allah'' is Arabic for God, used by Muslims and Christian Arabs to refer to the deity.
The Islamic council's executive director, Nihad Awad, insisted at a Washington news conference that the shoes have been seen at stores across the country, one pair in New Jersey as recently as Tuesday.
Holding up a pair of black-and-white Nikes with the logo, which he said were bought recently in the Boston area, Awad demanded that the company investigate to determine whether ``there are people at the company who want to insult Muslims.''
In 1995, Nike removed a billboard near the University of Southern California that depicted a basketball player with the headline, ``They called him Allah.'' The Council on American-Islamic Relations had told Nike officials the billboard offended Muslims.
Another leading athletic supplies manufacturer, Reebok International Ltd., was embarrassed in February to learn that the designation of its women's running shoe, ``Incubus,'' is the word for a mythical demon that preyed on sleeping women.
Photo: (Color) Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, calls on Nike to apologize.