The lines of the whiskers, nose, mouth and left eye of the smiley cat, which appears on each nappy and on the brand’s packaging, allegedly bear close resemblance to the Islamic prophet’s name when written in Arabic or Urdu.
Members of the Darsgah Jihad-o-Shahadat group lodged a formal complaint with police in the Indian city of Hyderabad on Tuesday over the alleged “insult” to Islam, as video footage emerged of activists burning packets of Pampers Baby Dry Pants in the streets.
In a formal letter to police, the group claimed that “name of Prophet (PBUH) can be seen printed” on the packet in Arabic “even with the bare eye”, adding that it had “hurt the feelings of the entire Muslim community”.
“Therefore we request your goodself to kindly immediately intervene into the matter forthwith and stop the sale and distribution of Baby Dry Pants of Pampers Company and take action against its manufactures [sic], arrest them and punish them,” the letter said.
One of the complainants, Shahnoor Khan, told Indian newspaper the Deccan Chronicle the group believed the company had “deliberately printed” the word on each nappy to “hurt the Muslim community” and spark community unrest.
According to The Sun, users on social media were split on the issue, with some joining calls for a boycott and others saying it was an innocent drawing taken out of context.
“Maybe it’s the fault of the creative team but whatever the case is, directly or indirectly, it’s manifesting the name of [our] holy Prophet,” Azam Shariff said. “That is a sheer desecration. It’s insulting. Don’t use the products until they change this, until they apologise.”
But Imtiyaz Naikoo said, “Please grow up. It’s a cat with two eyes and a moustache.”
On its website, multinational giant Procter & Gamble said Pampers had “served millions of babies since its launch in the Arabian Peninsula”.
A spokesperson for Procter & Gamble told The Sun, “We are aware of the false and misleading information about Pampers being spread via social media channels such as Facebook and YouTube.
“The design on the Pampers Baby Dry Pants shows an innocent animated representation of a cat. It shows a cat’s mouth and whiskers like it is commonly portrayed in drawings and cartoons across the world, especially by little children.
“The intent behind the use of this cartoon is completely innocent and we would never intend to offend any person, religion or cultural belief.”
Last month, Swedish fashion giant H&M was forced to apologise and pull a range of children’s socks after Muslim shoppers claimed an image of a Lego figurine resembled the word “Allah”.
This sounds like a job for Ray Hadley!