H&M Closes Stores in South Africa Amid Protests Over ‘Monkey’ Shirt

An H&M retailer in Johannesburg on Saturday after a protest by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Wikus De Wet/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Swedish clothes firm H&M briefly closed a number of shops in South Africa on Saturday after protests erupted over a picture in its on-line retailer that critics mentioned was racist.

The picture confirmed a black youngster modeling a hooded sweatshirt that mentioned “coolest monkey in the jungle.” Two different sweatshirts that have been additionally jungle-themed however didn’t point out monkeys have been modeled by white kids.

The picture touched off an uproar on social media this week, and on Saturday demonstrators representing South Africa’s second-largest opposition social gathering, Economic Freedom Fighters, gathered at H&M areas throughout the nation.

Videos and photographs of the gatherings confirmed individuals demonstrating outdoors or marching by way of a retailer. Others confirmed individuals toppling mannequins, overturning racks and scattering garments.

“Out of concern for the safety of our employees and customers we have temporarily closed all stores in the area,” H&M mentioned in an emailed assertion on Saturday.

“None of our staff or customers have been injured,” the assertion mentioned. “We continue to monitor the situation closely and will open the stores as soon as the situation is safe again. We strongly believe that racism and bias in any shape or form, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable. We stress that our wonderful store staff had nothing to do with our poorly judged product and image.”

Demonstrations have been reported at purchasing facilities in Cape Town and Pretoria, and at a number of areas in and round Johannesburg, together with Sandton, Midrand and Boksburg. On social media, some supported the protesters whereas others argued that the destruction was counterproductive.

Julius Malema, the social gathering’s charismatic however controversial chief, who was as soon as a member of the governing African National Congress, mentioned in a speech on Saturday, “We make no apology about what the fighters did today against that store called H&M” and mentioned concentrating on the shops was “just the beginning.”

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