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Chinese-made Shoes Inscribed With Name of Allah Anger Saudis

February 20, 1985

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) _ Saudi Arabian religious authorities have protested to the Taiwan Embassy about the sale of ″blasphemous″ Chinese-made rubber shoes inscribed with the word Allah.

The Taiwan Embassy responded with a statement Wednesday blaming the shoes’ manufacturer in the People’s Republic of China and protesting the innocence of the Taiwanese distributor.

Hundreds of posters and pamphlets have been distributed in Riyadh and in Jidda in the Arabic, English and Urdu languages complaining of the ″blasphemy″ of the ″hateful rubber shoes.″

″The blasphemy is because one is walking on the sacred name,″ protested Abdullah Hassan, a schoolteacher.

Local residents on Wednesday showed reporters a number of the shoes with the name of Allah, or God, written in Arabic on the heels.

The injection-molded rubber shoes have embarrassed Taiwanese diplomats here, who said they were made in Tientsin in the People’s Republic of China.

″The relations between the Republic of China and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia are very friendly and we (Taiwanese) will never tolerate any such foolish and irresponsible behavior (as making the shoes),″ said the Taiwan Embassy in a statement.

Saudi religious authorities told reporters the shoes were distributed by a Taiwanese company, which they did not name.

The Taiwanese pledged to work with the Saudi Ministry of Commerce which has also protested the ″hateful shoes.″

The oil-rich, theocratic kingdom has many government-funded committees whose members function as religious police, propagating examples of virtue and condemning vice.

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