The Kenyan born designer of a T-shirt worn by Jay-Z, featuring a historic Kenyan mosque, has been forced to apologize to clerics who criticized the use of its image.
After the rapper was spotted wearing the T-shirt showing Lamu’s Riyadha Mosque as he came out of a restaurant in California, the T-shirt designer Zedekiah Lukoye uploaded the image on Instagram to promote the brand.
In place of likes and comments, Loky received a letter on his Facebook page from the Riyadha Mosque saying, the management committee and worshipers were “disturbed and actually feel insulted” by the photos of Jay-Z wearing the T-shirt, which features a green image of the mosque on a white background, with the word “Lamu” printed above it.
The letter continued: “When wearers of these T-shirts end up in bars, clubs and at all sorts of sacrilegious joints, it is certainly an affront to the spiritual respect and dignity towards all those who revere the Mosque, its Founder and the General Muslim community within and outside Lamu.”
The letter called on Loky to “show respect for the Mosque by ‘removing our Mosque’s Portrait.'”
In a letter sent to Riyadha Mosque and Islamic Centre Secretary General Abubakar Badawy, the designer confessed that he was unaware, during research and design stage, that the portrayal of the mosque on their T-shirts would end up in sacrilegious joints.
“In this respect, we are willing to make this right with you. We will make sure to remove all the inappropriate portrayal of Riyadha Mosque Lamu on our T-shirts.”
He further explains that they had alerted their friends and family who received the T-shirt design to respect the dignity of the mosque, its Founder-Habib Swaleh, and the general Muslim community “by not wearing it in bars nor clubs if they happen to decide to wear it.”
He says that their intention was in good faith and in line with the company’s mission of educating people around the world about history using various art designs.
“Since we only produced 20 T-shirts for some of our celebrity friends and family, we would not be reprinting this design,” he states.
“We look forward to an amicable solution to this matter. Once more, we’re sincerely sorry for using Riyadha Mosque Lamu without your authorization.” Loky’s apology concluded.
Riyadha Mosque and Islamic Centre Secretary General, Abubakar Badawy confirmed receipt of the apology letter.
“We received the letter yesterday. The designer and the company have shown remorse and we don’t take that for granted. The apology has been accepted. We are looking forward to partnering with them to promote the good image of Lamu.”
The Lamu Riyadha Mosque is the oldest, having been built in 1892 and is hailed as a landmark historical site because of its role in spreading Islam in East and Central Africa.
In 2018, the government declared it a national monument under the National Museums and Heritage Act.