The women's fashion company Shein has apologized after making "a serious mistake" by selling Muslim prayer mats that the company advertised as "fringe trim carpets" on its website.
Shein posted an apology on its social media channels earlier this week after people expressed their outrage about the company selling rugs that resembled the mats Muslims use to pray.
"We're sorry!" the company wrote on Instagram. "To our community — we made a serious mistake recently by selling prayer mats as decorative rugs on our site. We understand this is a highly offensive oversight and are truly sorry."
The company has removed the items for sale on its website and formed a product review committee of employees to avoid similar situations in the future.
"As a global brand, we vow to do a much better job in educating ourselves on different cultures, religions, and traditions to ensure our diverse community is respected and honored," Shein wrote in its apology. "We offer our sincerest apology to all whom we have hurt and offended, and hope we can earn your forgiveness."
The response came in the wake of a viral Instagram post by Khadija Rizvi, a journalism graduate student in England.
"I am disgusted," she wrote last week. "I am livid.@sheinofficial is also PROFITING off muslim prayer mats (janemaz/sajadah) by selling them as ‘fringe trim carpets’ for people to use casually around the house. A few have the Kaaba printed on them.
"THIS IS HIGHLY OFFENSIVE, Not only is it disrespectful but they once again renamed and stole credit from a whole faith this time, by failing to label it as a muslim prayer mat; which allows people to use it casually as a decorative mat.
"A prayer mat is an important piece of fabric, used by Muslims, placed between the ground and the worshipper during their five daily prayers. It is NOT a carpet and must be treated with respect and you don’t ever wear shoes on it."
Others also expressed their displeasure at the mats being sold.
"you have got to be joking. SHEIN really taking prayer mats and reselling it like this? RELIGIOUS PRAYER MATS??????? AS RUGS?" one user wrote on Twitter.
Rizvi followed up by posting a message of gratitude to her followers on Instagram following Shein's apology.
"The response over the last few days has been phenomenal, seeing hundreds of thousands of people come together in a unified voice," she wrote. "It's a HUGE deal for a global company to respond to the voices of the layman, this should be celebrated as an amazing success!"
Shein is the latest company to get in hot water for items or advertisements deemed racist or culturally insensitive. European brand Loewe apologized last year for selling an outfit resembling concentration camp outfits, and Burberry apologized for showcasing a hoodie with a noose around its neck.
H&M faced a backlash in 2018 over an ad that featured a Black child wearing a sweatshirt that read "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle." The New York fashion brand Uzi also faced criticism in 2017 for its Refugee Dress.