Amazon.com Inc. pulled doormats emblazoned with the Indian flag from its Canadian website after the South Asian nation’s foreign minister threatened to oust the Seattle company’s employees.
“This is unacceptable,” Sushma Swaraj, India’s foreign minister, wrote on Twitter Wednesday in response to a posting from a user showing an image of the doormats for sale.
Ms. Swaraj, who has 7 million followers on the platform, called on Amazon to remove the “insulting” products and threatened to rescind visas for Amazon’s foreign staff in India if action wasn’t taken.
Her three tweets on the issue garnered more than 19,000 retweets and more than 30,000 likes, with some users calling on “all angry Indians” to email Amazon founder Jeff Bezos directly.
India’s flag code outlines the proper display of the saffron, green and white banner and prohibits disrespecting it.
As of Thursday the doormats had been removed from Amazon’s Canadian site, though it still offers those bearing flags from countries like the United Kingdom, the U.S., Norway and Costa Rica.
Amazon’s India website, meanwhile, offers for sale doormats emblazoned with the Union Jack.
The Indian flag doormats are “no longer available for sale on the site,” said a spokeswoman for Amazon in India.
India is a critical market for the Seattle behemoth’s future international growth. After failing to find much success in China, Mr. Bezos has in recent years pledged $5 billion of investment in the South Asian country, with Amazon expanding rapidly and gaining market share on its domestic rivals.
This isn’t the first time a global technology company has come under fire for allegedly offending Indians’ cultural sensitives.
Last year an attorney in India filed a petition to outlaw “Pokémon Go,” the hit smartphone game from Japan’s Nintendo Co. and the U.S.’s Niantic Inc., for displaying virtual eggs in houses of worship, supposedly running afoul of religious practices.
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