One does not mess with the flag of India without consequence, it seems — not even if one happens to be an American corporate titan.
Unlike in the U.S., where the right to trample, burn or otherwise desecrate the national flag is protected under the First Amendment, abusing the flag of India violates the law and can draw fines and imprisonment, according to Reuters.
So when Indian officials learned that Amazon Canada was selling doormats resembling India’s flag, they took action.
“Amazon must tender unconditional apology,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter. “They must withdraw all products insulting our national flag immediately.
“If this is not done forthwith, we will not grant Indian Visa to any Amazon official. We will also rescind the Visas issued earlier.”
Amazon clearly saw that penalty as a threat to its plans for India, where it plans to invest $5 billion to snare “a bigger share of the world’s fastest-growing internet-services market,” Reuters reported.
“The item is no longer available for sale on the site,” an Amazon spokeswoman told the news service.
Several outraged Twitter users posted screenshots appearing to show ads on Amazon for Indian flag doormats.
One angry tweeter urged people to email Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to complain, and provided his email address.
It should be noted that Amazon lists for sale doormats from other countries on its sites. On Jan. 11, for example, $12 would get you a machine-washable, non-slip, indoor-outdoor American flag doormat, with free shipping.
Photo: Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, right, is presented with the 2016 USIBC Global Leadership Award by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 41st Annual Leadership Summit at the Mellon Auditorium in 2016 in Washington, D.C. Bezos said his company is boosting his investment in India. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)