Megastore responds after online outrage over Hitler's book
Rory Jones and Scott Armstrong
Virgin Megastore has pulled Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf from its recommended reads in its Qatar store after a social media backlash on Twitter.
The music, entertainment and media retailer is under fire as pictures have been circling the internet of a "Virgin Recommends" bookshelf plugging Mein Kampf for sale and published in Arabic.
Virgin recommended the book in its store in the Landmark Shopping Centre in Doha. It has since taken it off the promotional shelves.
Charlie Gandelman took the picture and then posted it on Twitter after he was alerted to it by his friend Anna Peregrini.
"My friend was very shocked and sent a very passionate email to Virgin but got no response," Mr Gandelman said. "I have seen this book on sale before but to have it in the recommended section of an international British brand associated with [Sir] Richard Branson is surprising.
"After Anna got no response from the company I posted it on Twitter to see where it would go."
Ms Peregrini, who also lives in Qatar, was equally concerned. "It is one thing for this to be on sale, I do not believe in censorship, but to be promoted in this way crosses a line. "This isn't a specialist history bookshop, it only has a small number of such titles on sale, so the fact it has been chosen says something, but to be recommended in this way is shocking," she said.
"To start with, I gave [Sir] Richard … the benefit of the doubt, I'm sure this would not be something he would know about, but to write and then receive no response from the company is disappointing, which is why we tweeted it. "This is a store which sells to the younger generation, is the store saying this book is cool?" she said.
Followers on Twitter soon picked up on the story and started commenting.
"It has come to this! Virgin Megastore in Qatar recommends Hitler's Mein Kampf to its Arab readers," a tweeter posted yesterday.
The book was first published in 1925 and charts the Nazi leader's increasing anti-Semitic views and hatred of both communism and Judaism.
"Mein Kampf recommended reading in Virgin Qatar @richardbranson," said another tweet.
Other Twitter users also berated Sir Richard, the founder of Virgin Megastores on his own Twitter account.
"Please say it isn't so @[Sir] RichardBranson Virgin Megastores recommending Mein Kampf in Arabic," said another Twitter post.
"Each Virgin Megastore in the Middle East is responsible for the merchandising of products within its respective store and is not merchandised via a planogram from headquarters," Virgin said.
"Recently, one of the region's Virgin Megastores included in its book section the Arabic translation of Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler, a title available worldwide in major bookstores and online.
"For one day, the book was included in the recommended section.
"The recommended tag was not an endorsement of the book's author or its content," the company said.
"In response to a customer, we removed the title from the display. Commentary in the public domain was also taken seriously by Virgin Megastore and our policy is always to listen and respond immediately."
Virgin is the second Middle East retailer to come under fire on Twitter on consecutive days after shoppers began boycotting MH Alshaya stores over the company's new policy on refunds.