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H&M Withdraws Controversial Scarf in Israel

The retailer issued an apology after social media commentators remarked that the scarf looked like a Jewish prayer shawl.

H&M's fringed scarf

PARIS — H&M has withdrawn from sale in Israel a striped scarf after social media commentators called out the Swedish high street chain, saying the item closely resembled a Jewish prayer shawl.

The fringed scarf, in light beige with black stripes, retails for $17.99. H&M also sells a poncho in a similar design.

“We are truly sorry if we have offended anyone with this piece. Everyone is welcome at H&M and we never take a religious or political stand,” the retailer said. “Our intention was never to upset anyone. Stripes is one of the trends for this season and we’ve been inspired by this.”

The scarf is still available on H&M’s U.S. Web site and elsewhere.

“The quantities were small and the products are no longer available in some markets. The item is currently not available in stores in Israel following a local decision of removal,” the company said.

It is not the first time a fast-fashion giant has landed in hot water over items with religious, cultural or political connotations.

Spanish retailer Zara was forced to apologize in 2014 after selling a children’s “sheriff” T-shirt featuring horizontal stripes and a yellow star on the left breast, which critics said resembled the uniforms worn by Jewish concentration camp prisoners during World War II.

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