Racially offensive fireworks off Wisconsin shelves

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 4, 2009 - 9:07 PM

A Wisconsin retailer agreed to stop selling a line of fireworks after Minnesota Muslims protested that it's racist.

Fireworks called Run Hadji Run were pulled off the shelves of a Wisconsin store after Minnesota Muslims complained that they were racist.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) said that the name and the packaging are demeaning. One side of the package has a drawing of Uncle Sam yanking the long beard of a man in traditional Muslim attire, while the other shows a Stealth bomber flying over a group of Arabs riding camels. In addition, "Hadji" is an honorific for those who have completed the pilgrimage to Mecca.

"I've seen other fireworks that I thought were pushing the line on being offensive, but this clearly went too far," Jessica Zikri, the communications director of CAIR-MN, said Saturday. "Hopefully, this will help keep other groups from being targeted this way."

The company that imported the fireworks from China, Missouri-based Red Rhino Fireworks, said that they are at least three years old and were distributed by the firm's previous owners. But they are still listed in the company's online catalog, which said they send off 16 red, green and blue "strobe comets" over a period of 28 seconds.

They were discovered by a shopper Friday afternoon at Fireworks City in Baldwin, Wis. Reports of their existence reached CAIR-MN, which demanded their removal and they were removed from the sales stock late Friday.

Because the fireworks were distributed several years ago, there's no way of telling if other stores still have some, Zikri acknowledged.

"But we're happy that this store saw the logic" of halting sales, she said. "We contacted [Red Rhino], and hopefully they will tell other stores to get rid of any remaining product they might have."

Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392

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