Activists in Gothenburg, Sweden, protest the symbol featured in Roberto Cavalli's "Just Cavalli" line on July 12, 2014. Students at the largest Sufi Muslim School in the world, M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi, started a global protest against the use of the mark in the "Just Cavalli" line due to its similarity to their school's logo.

Activists in Gothenburg, Sweden, protest the symbol featured in Roberto Cavalli’s “Just Cavalli” line on July 12, 2014. Members at the largest Sufi Muslim centers in the world, M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi, started a global protest against the use of the mark in the “Just Cavalli” line due to its similarity to their logo. RNS photo courtesy TakeOffJustLogo Campaign

(RNS) A group devoted to the mystical Sufi tradition of Islam is taking to the streets and social media as it fights for the removal of the faith’s religious symbol on designer Roberto Cavalli’s “Just Cavalli” clothing and fragrance line.

Cavalli is an Italian fashion designer known for exotic prints and a sandblasted look for jeans. He created the “Just Cavalli” line in 2013. The line includes clothes, fragrances and accessories.

The “Just Cavalli” logo is said to be a snakebite, but members of the M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi centers say it’s actually their religious emblem.

M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi is a school of Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, best known for its ecstatic use of chanting, singing, dancing and whirling. With more than 500,000 followers, it has centers in Dallas and Los Angeles as well as Europe and Australia.

The symbol has been trademarked for the past 27 years but has been used by Sufis for 150 years. In the symbol, the words “Allah” and “Ali” are spelled out, making it sacred to Sufi students.

In Cavalli’s symbol, the image is rotated 90 degrees and is superimposed with a snakeskin pattern. Students say the “Just Cavalli” symbol is associated with lust and sex and is causing confusion among family and friends.

Students at the largest Sufi Muslim School in the world, M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi, started a global campaign protesting Roberto Cavalli's "Just Cavalli" line, which uses a similar mark to the school's logo. The students' campaign has a presence in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany and France.

Members of M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi started a global campaign protesting the mark used in Roberto Cavalli’s “Just Cavalli” line, which uses a similar symbol to their logo, shown here. The campaign has a presence in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany and France. RNS image courtesy M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi

“I don’t want it to be associated with ‘Oh, is that the Just Cavalli logo? And it’s a snakebite and that means seduction and that means lust.’ Whereas for 150 years it’s been protected and it’s sacred,” said Saloumeh Bozorgzadeh, an M.T.O. follower in Chicago.

Sufi followers around the world are protesting, Bozorgzadeh said, with at least one protest every week, including a Wednesday (July 16) rally in Alicante, Spain, and one scheduled for Canada on July 26.

They’ve reached out to Cavalli and his team and have received letters back informing them that the logos don’t look anything alike.

The company declined to comment on this issue to a reporter.

They also started a social media campaign with the slogan #TakeOffJustLogo. The campaign is on multiple platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and a blog.

The blog includes a petition with over 3,300 signatures, and organizers hope to get about 5,000 altogether.

“He is stealing a logo that means everything to me!” said Niyaz Sharifizad.

Nasim Bahadorani, another M.T.O. follower helping with the campaign, said non-Sufis are getting into the campaign too, understanding that Cavalli could change the meaning to any religious symbol.

“Who knows who’s next on his list?” Bahadorani said. “They believe in this mission because they are thinking ‘Am I next?’”

This is not the first time Cavalli has used a religious symbol on his products. In 2004, he put Hindu gods on a line of underwear and swimsuits. Stores saw a backlash and began removing the line from their floors. Cavalli later apologized and stopped producing the items.

Bozorgzadeh said seeing Cavalli’s response to the complaints in 2004 gives her hope for the current campaign.

“It does matter what the public thinks and it does matter just because we are perhaps a smaller group of students, it does matter what he’s doing,” Bozorgzadeh said. “It’s not really about us, it’s about what is happening to this logo, what is happening on a larger scale.”

KRE/MG END ADAMS

19 Comments

  1. As long as they are not a group of american christians, their demands will be met.

    But if its a cross that is in question, we will suspend it in an acrylic box of urine and put it in a art museum. See relabling it art means you can’t be offended by it.

  2. You are entirely correct with that statement. This has been all sorts of desecrations related to Christianity of recent vintage, and there is little response to protests. Jesus is regularly mocked and derided in what claims to be art and what claims to be theater. However, do not try these desecrations with other groups because they will scream, and they will be responded to

  3. Sufi’s are peaceful&God loving people that don’t wish harm to anyone. it seems like Cavalli did the same thing in 2004 to Hindus by using their faith symbol on his bikini line. Someone needs to ask Mr Cavalli as a fashion designer isn’t it better to be original & create his own logos instead of hurting so many people ..

  4. This is clearly a copyright issue and you would think that a major corporate company such as Cavalli would be more careful in their selection of anything related to their fashion lines….I say good for the Sufis to stand up for their right!!!

  5. well done to the Sufis for standing up for what they believe in. I can see the similarities in the logos and I know from what I read that in Sufism everything has a meaning so for cavalla to copy this logo it has obviously upset many Sufis that know the meaning behind it. I support u #takeoffjustlogo

  6. Looks like the issue is not just fashion, it’s the fact that Cavalli is calling the logo a snake bite is causing these protests. Perception is everything. Look what happened to the swastika…

  7. Roberto Cavali’s Logo is definitely an imitation and should be changed completely so Sufi students can have a sacred symbol which is not confusing by new Sufi muslim students who are looking for deep knowledge and understanding of God. Roberto Cavalli’s conduct is an insult to my believe and sacred symbol. Do you see my point?

  8. I am really angry at this new cavali mess up i will definitely not be buying his products again this is a total outrage and must be stopped please let me know how i can get involved, mr cavali i hope these sufis crush you !!!!!!!

  9. The Sufis are peacefull people. They were not until recently in the mass media; now they are there in the streats and in the media. That means something is really going wrong with what Roberto Cavalli has done. I wish they will win their cause.

  10. cavali only is un old man that can,t hear and see anything is coming around the world WE ARE SORRY for him and sorry for DESIGNER GROUPS that are quiete for his BAD WORKS.

  11. I’m a Christian. A person that i hold dear to my heart is affected by this. No matter your religion, it should be respected by others, and you should respect other’s religious beliefs. This “designer” clearly has no respect for others. Why can’t he design his own design and stop stealing a sacred symbol, rotating it, and calling it his own?

  12. Charles Freeman

    Over a half century ago I learned the “the word is not the thing” ( SI Hayakawa), or, in other words, the symbol is not the concept, belief, understanding, behavior, etc. Since then, I have experienced one religious group after another claiming privelege and discriminatory practices. I’m sick of these false practices that are intended to hide the excesses of religious privelege.

  1. […] A Muslim Sufi order have taken to the streets and social media in its fight to convince designer Roberto Cavalli to remove a logo from its “Just Cavalli” clothing and fragrance line. M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi allege the logo closely resembles their own 150-year-old religious emblem, which spells out “Allah” and “Ali”. The order has more than 500,000 followers worldwide. Their campaign on social media uses the hashtag #TakeOffJustLogo. […]

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