They didn’t like that the ruler depicted “four veiled persons” next to the name Mohammed. A customer claimed “This promotes exclusion.” Staples rather fancifully explained that the veiled figures were ninjas, and removed the ruler from circulation.
But what, really, was the problem? Islam’s prophet Muhammad ordered that women be veiled, covering everything but their face and hands. And many Muslim women to this day do go out in public with their faces covered. So why should anyone object to a ruler bearing his name and the images of veiled people?
Of course, if one of the figures had been labeled “Mohammed,” then Staples would be bombed and its employees massacred, and everyone in the Western intelligentsia would say they had it coming. But this is different: they were trying to promote inclusion by offering a ruler with the name “Mohammed,” so that little Mohammed could have his own personalized ruler at school, just like little Hans and little Jürgen and little Anna. But instead, they’re accused of promoting exclusion. One might almost get the impression that some groups are perpetually aggrieved, and only take gestures of good will as occasions to grow even more aggrieved, aggressive and demanding.
“Removed from assortment at Staples because of criticism: Controversy around Mohammed ruler,” translated from “Nach Kritik aus Sortiment entfernt Staples: Wirbel um Mohammed-Lineal,” Hamburger Morgenpost (MOPO), January 30, 2018:
Great confusion about a ruler at Staples: The American office supply chain faces the charge of racism. At the cash register of a Hamburg branch, a ruler with a Mohammed lettering was advertised that has aroused irritating associations for some customers with the Muslim world view. For next to the name Mohammed to the left and right, four veiled persons are depicted.
A customer complained that she felt it was “absolutely impossible for children to get the wrong picture” and added: “this promotes exclusion.”
The name Anna is associated with butterflies, the name Mathilda with owls and the very name Mohammed with disguise.
However, on closer inspection, it can be seen that the veiled persons are ninjas (fighters of pre-industrial Japan — ed.). The company therefore said that it was a misunderstanding.
“The rulers can be customized by our customers for €3.49,” said a member of the affected branch to MOPO. In the case of Muhammad, there was only one “unfortunate combination of ninjas and his name.”
Neither intent nor an image of Muslims shaped by a certain perspective would have led to the creation of the ruler. After all, the branch reacted to the criticism and deleted the said ruler from the assortment.