Sufi students in Europe and North America have launched protests against Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli for what they said is the “misuse of a sacred Sufi emblem” on his perfume products.
A protest will be held in Union Square in San Francisco June 21 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Other events are planned for June 29 in Chicago from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. at 806 N. Michigan Ave., and in Vancouver, Canada, July 12 from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. at the intersection of Georgia and Granville.
“The peaceful demonstrations are a chance for Sufis to express their grievance and offense at Cavalli’s misuse of their sacred Sufi emblem,” SufiRights.org said in a press release.
According to the organization, the emblem contains “deep spiritual significance and iconography which is being tarnished by Cavalli’s vindictive ‘Just Cavalli’ campaign.”
The students want the emblem removed from all the perfume products. They say the Italian designer “simply rotated the emblem and declared it to be a ‘snake bite,’ a connotation (indicative) of the original sin and the deadly sin.”
Nearly 3,000 protestors signed a Change.org petition launched in London, U.K., against Cavalli.
The London branch of the Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism has also initiated a cancellation action against Cavalli’s logo with European and U.S. trademark offices, according to news reports.
The MTO, which has its roots in Iranian Shia Sufism, owns the copyright on the symbol, which it describes as representing “peace, purity and the name of God.”
Cavalli’s company has denied that its Just Cavalli logo is based on MTO’s symbol, describing it as “clearly very different.”
But Just Cavalli’s ad video was deemed so inappropriate it was removed from circulation in the U.K., SufiRights.org said.
Roberto Cavalli also offended Hindus in 2004 when he used images of their deities on products such as bikinis.
Other demonstrations against the perfume have been held at Roberto Cavalli stores in Beverly Hills and Orange County, Calif.; Houston and Dallas, Texas; and Washington, D.C.