Washington, DC: Wal-Mart managers are removing the Mattel doll that says “Islam is the Light” from store shelves, according to reports from parents and the media across the U.S. and Canada, as well as Wal-Mart employees. Many Wal-Mart managers have removed the controversial doll in the last two weeks, and others are removing it as soon as parents ask.
The Moms Ask Mattel for Accountability (MAMA) campaign to remove the doll began in late November on “Black” Friday, the year’s biggest shopping day. The national MAMA campaign started as a response to parent concerns about the Mattel/Fisher Price “Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Cuddle and Coo Doll.” The majority of “Little Mommy Cuddle and Coo” dolls on store shelves have an audio soundtrack that says “Islam is the Light,” with no label or warning to parents on the doll’s packaging that it advocates Islam to their young children, a practice known as “Dawa.” MAMA has advised parents in the U.S. and Canada to ask retailers either to remove the doll from the shelves or to attach a label stating “NOTICE: This doll says “Islam is the light,” an invitation to your child to join Islam.” MAMA is concerned that an invitation to Islam is a material risk to young girls, because of the discriminatory Islamic law known as Shariah, and wants parents informed about the doll’s statement before they purchase the doll.
“Parents are reporting that most Wal-Marts have already removed the doll, or immediately remove it when asked,” said Denise Lee, founder of Moms Ask Mattel for Accountability. “And TV and newspaper stories are reporting the same policy changes. MAMA applauds Wal-Mart for taking the lead here in responding to parents’ concerns, especially over the Christmas season.”
Wal-Mart staff at the Wal-Mart customer “Urgent Assistance” complaint phones were helpful and frank about customer complaints about the “Islam is the Light” doll. Lee spoke with Wal-Mart “Urgent Assistance” employee Ben Werkheiser, who said “We have received quite a few complaints from customers.” Werkheiser stated that removal of the dolls is “more or less left up to individual stores’ decisions,” and when asked if the dolls had been removed from most Wal-Mart stores answered “Yes, they’ve pulled them because people complained about it. We are mainly responding to customers’ complaints. The dolls in most of our Wal-Marts have been pulled.” Fellow Wal-Mart employee Maria McDonald stated “We have had many complaints with the doll…the calls we are getting are from customers. I personally have received a lot of calls from customers.”
Wal-Mart employee Werkheiser offered advice to customers: “Contact store managers and let them know what’s going on. Have them listen to the doll. Customers can call the home office, 1-800-WALMART.” Although the Wal-Mart corporate office declined our request to provide an official policy statement, MAMA spokesperson Lee said: “The facts speak for themselves – Wal-Mart is saying YES! to parent requests for removal of the “Islam is the light” doll from the shelves.”
A TALE OF TWO TOY STORES….
On the other hand, MAMA’s requests to Target to remove the doll – or attach a label stating that it says “Islam is the Light” – met with a NO!
Amy Reilly of Target’s Media Relations office called Lee and directed parents “To talk to Mattel if you have any issues with the doll.” Reilly carefully stated, “We have not had a national recall on those dolls.” When told of parents concerns about the doll Reilly stated, “The doll is a well selling doll.” She said, for anything else “I would continue to try reaching Mattel.”
“The difference is clear between two responses to parents’ concerns,” said Lee. “Wal-Mart is trying to help parents, and leaves the decision up to their managers. It appears from all the Target cases that parents have sent us (see “Cases” at www.labelthatdoll.com), that Target refuses to take action in response to consumer complaints, and local Target store managers aren’t permitted to respond to their local community.”
“The question is what will Target, Wal-Mart and other retailers do on December 26, when all those parents who bought that ‘well selling’ doll try to return it because it says ‘Islam is the light’?” Lee said.
Lee noted that individual Kmarts have also been reported in the media as removing the dolls, but no nationwide policy has been released.