STORY HIGHLIGHTS Walmart subsidiary Asda and retailer Tesco were selling mental health themed costumes The British retailers apologized and withdrew them from sale after a social media outcry Mental health charity Mind said the sale of the costumes had been “extremely misguided” Soccer player Stan Collymore tweeted about the effect of mental health stereotypes (CNN) — British retailers have removed “psycho ward” and “mental patient” Halloween costumes from their online stores after criticism that they were offensive to people with mental health conditions. Walmart subsidiary Asda showed a man in a blood-stained white coat brandishing a meat cleaver to advertise its “Mental Patient Fancy Dress Costume.” Tesco’s advertisement for its “Psycho Ward Costume” showed a man in an orange boiler suit branded “PSYCHO WARD” brandishing a hypodermic needle and wearing a mask similar to that of Hannibal Lecter in the film, “The Silence of the Lambs.” An Asda spokeswoman offered the company’s “sincere apologies for the offense” the costumes had caused. “This was an unacceptable error and the product was withdrawn immediately,” she said in a statement. “We take our responsibilities very seriously which is why we will make a sizable donation to Mind.” Tesco also issued an apology, saying in a statement: “We’re really sorry for any offense this has caused and we are removing this product from sale.” Mental health charity Mind welcomed the withdrawal of the costumes, saying the retailers had shown themselves to be “extremely misguided” by offering them for sale. Slept in. Have @asda withdrawn their ‘mental patient fancy dress’ costume or are we going to organise a protest at HQ? #timetochange Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) September 26, 2013 Alastair Campbell “It is staggeringly offensive to the one in four of us affected by mental health problems and our families and friends, and troubling that some businesses are still so out of touch with the public mood,” spokeswoman Sue Baker said in a statement . However, Baker said the outcry the costumes provoked on the social media site Twitter was encouraging. “We hope this will urge Asda, Tesco and other retailers and manufacturers to review their processes and consider taste and decency on mental health grounds, to avoid fueling stigma and discrimination that are so damaging for large numbers of the population,” she said. Mind and the group Rethink Mental Illness run the Time to Change campaign to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. One of the campaign’s supporters is Alastair Campbell, who was former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s media chief and who has publicly spoken of his battle with depression . Campbell was among those who tweeted his displeasure at the “brutally stigmatizing outfits.” “@asda and @tesco should sign up for one of the @mindcharity @Rethink_ @TimetoChange mental health training courses,” he tweeted . Campbell alleged that Amazon still carried mental health patient costumes and called for people to tweet the company, asking it to withdraw them. But in response to an inquiry from CNN, an Amazon spokesperson said: “The item you refer to is not available on Amazon.co.uk.” Soccer player and broadcaster Stan Collymore who has also spoken out on depression, also took to Twitter to criticize the stereotype he said Asda and Tesco’s costumes had promoted.
UK Sikhs Have Positive Meeting With Jathedar
the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, risks being destroyed by wind turbines that several companies wish to install in its proximity. They say that, should these turbines be built, the light they’ll emit will almost certainly affect visibility of stars, comets, galaxies and the Northern Lights. Besides, odds are they’ll make it more difficult for astronomers to monitor the sky using sensitive equipment, The Scotsman tells us. This is because, under requirements issued by the Ministry of Defense and the Aviation Authority, the turbines will have to be illuminated using infrared light. In some areas, it might happen that visible illumination will be used. Hoping to safeguard this park, said organizations have sent a letter to the Scottish Government. In their letter, they ask that no company be allowed to install wind turbines close to this protected area. For the time being, energy companies and developers have submitted 9 proposals for such green-energy projects. Although some have already been rejected, conservationists fear that, should just one be given the green light, many others will shortly follow. The Scottish government is yet to respond to this letter. FILED UNDER:
UK retailers remove ‘staggeringly offensive’ mental health costumes from sale
According to Education Secretary Michael Gove, there is increasing concern about the influence of extremist Muslims in schools in areas of the UK. Speaking to the Sunday Times, Gove mentions primary schools in Surrey and Birmingham whose governing body was being taken over by parents with radical views, possibly in the hope of radicalizing pupils and staff. Now Gove has established a counter-extremism unit to investigate schools where radical activity has been suspected. The unit includes two former MI5 agents, civil servants and academic experts. The unit will weed out schools whose practices do not conform to British values. Gove cites Al-Madinah Muslim Free School in Derby, where non-Muslim female teachers were allegedly pressured into wearing headscarves. His department is investigating the school, which is outside local authority control. Meanwhile it emerges that a state-funded school in Blackburn is insisting that girls wear a hijab (Muslim headscarf) both in and out of class. According to the Sunday Times, students at Tauheedul Islam Girls High School in Blackburn have been told they should wear the garment at home and are forbidden from bringing stationery to school featuring un-Islamic images such as pop star photographs. In 2011 governmental adviser Haras Rafiq handed a dossier to the Department for Education (DfE) in which he expressed strong concerns about the organist that runs the school, the Tauheedul Charitable Trust. Rafiq mentioned a visit to the school by a Saudi cleric, Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, who has allegedly called Jews the scum of the human race. Despite Rafiqs concerns, the DfE allowed the trust to set up three free schools in the Blackburn area, which has a high Muslim population. However the school itself maintains that non-Muslims are welcome and that not all students choose to wear the hijab outside class.
UK: Ex-MI5 agents target schools for “extremist influence”
UK Government, European Union, other governments or the Jathedar of the Akaal Takht. He stressed the need for the Jathedar of the Akaal Takht Sahib to maintain an on-going working dialogue with the Sikh Council UK, as well as listen and respond to a variety of concerns raised by the Board of Jathedars. The Jathedar said he was very supportive of the Sikh Council UK concept and all Gurdwaras and Sikh organisations should join the initiative. He also agreed that a working level relationship between the Council and Akal Takht Sahib would be mutually beneficial and should be taken forward at routine level. A very wide range of issues were discussed in the one hour long meeting that proved extremely positive. The issues included the need for the Jathedar of the Akaal Takht to keep in close contact and consult with the Sikh Council UK regarding Sikh identity issues across Europe and maintain an on-going working dialogue as well as listen and respond to a variety of concerns raised by the Board of Jathedars. Bhai Dabinderjit Singh was asked to lead the first part of the discussions on behalf of the Executive Committee on three specific issues the Sikh Council UK wished to raise. He started the meeting by referring to the European-wide Summit held in Paris in November 2011 that brought Sikhs from across Europe together and an agreement that Sikhs should themselves take the lead in dealing with Sikh identity matters (assisted by the Sikh Council UK) rather than rely on Indian consulates to be given the initiative who often created further complications. Reference was made to the 23 December 2011 letter from the Jathedar of the Akaal Takht regarding the searching of dastaars at airports requested by Sikhs from Italy for the Italian authorities. The Sikh Council UK helped write the final letter to ensure it was consistent with what was agreed with the UK Government and was being implemented as well as what was being negotiated with the European Commission. This sort of partnership approach between the Sikh Council UK and the Jathedar of the Akaal Takht was seen as an encouraging development. In a very welcome move Jaswinder Pal Singh , the Personal Secretary to the Jathedar of the Akaal Takht who was accompanying the Jathedar confirmed no letter would be issued in relation to Sikh identity issues in Europe without first consulting the Sikh Council UK. The next issue raised was concerning same sex marriage that became law in the UK in July 2013. Whilst the law has provided important safeguards for Gurdwaras no Gurdwara can be compelled and no discrimination claims can be brought, it was explained a chance remains that someone may legally challenge this position.