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Houston shopkeeper hit with hate mail
San Antonio Express-News ^ | 07/09/2010 | By Moises Mendoza - Houston Chronicle

Posted on 07/09/2010 7:12:26 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd

Sajid Master wants the phone calls and angry letters to stop. He wants people to quit coming into Perfume Planet in Houston to yell at his workers. He’d especially like folks to stop castigating his landlord.

Nearly a year after the Internet painted Master as an al-Qaida sympathizer, outrage toward the store at the Harwin Central Mart shows no sign of waning.

“They’ve threatened to kill me; sometimes they’re cursing when they call,” Master said Thursday in his shop.

Trouble is, all the indignation is the product of a massive misunderstanding, illustrating the awesome — and sometimes damaging — power of the Internet.

Master, who describes himself as a proud American citizen, says he isn’t a terrorist sympathizer — he’s just a shopkeeper who inadvertently touched a very raw nerve.

It started when the Muslim merchant posted a sign at his shop during Ramadan explaining the store would be closed Sept. 11 to remember the death of Imam Ali, a sacred Muslim figure.

But Master failed to explain that Ali, who’s remembered on a different date each year during Ramadan, died in AD 661 and was in no way related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Someone snapped a picture of the sign and started sending it around online, claiming Imam Ali was one of the 9-11 hijackers.

Before long the photo went viral, showing up on countless conservative Internet forums and prompting statements like this one that appeared at 2Aforum.com: “Picket, protest, and through lawful means, strangle their business.”

Soon the phone calls started, befuddling and overwhelming store manager Hasan Kolsawala, who tried to explain that no offense was intended. People also called Master’s cell phone to denounce him.

He probably could have shrugged off the incident as a temporary annoyance, but 10 months later, the consequences of that sign still reverberate.

Phone calls to Perfume Planet often come in waves as people send around new e-mail chains urging recipients to voice their anger. Workers try to explain things.

“But some people don’t want to listen,” Kolsawala said.

Then there are the people who stomp into the store holding printouts of the infamous photo and demanding explanations.

And there are the countless angry letters flooding the shop’s mailbox. Master dutifully responds to each one.

Luckily for Master, some websites, like the popular snopes.com, have taken pity on him, dedicating space to debunking the controversy.

But the parade of phone calls keeps coming, not only to the shop but to the management of Harwin Central Mart.

Myong Yi, the mall’s manager, said he’s almost at his breaking point.

“Sometimes I want to just kick him out,” he said.

This year, Perfume Planet will close to commemorate Imam Ali’s death in early September.

But the sign will be different, Kolsawala said.

“It’ll just say, ‘We’re closed today.’ " he said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: muslim
What a doofus. What did this this guy expect?

I'm glad he took all this heat. I was beginning to worry if there were any Americans left who still remembered the events of 9/11.

1 posted on 07/09/2010 7:12:29 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd
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To: Responsibility2nd

So he’s still supporting a dead islamic radical but this particular one is a good one?


2 posted on 07/09/2010 7:15:40 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Responsibility2nd

He may be a doofus who did not understand that people would make the wrong connection. But I fail to see why you would be glad he has taken heat over a mis-perception.


3 posted on 07/09/2010 7:18:23 AM PDT by Sans-Culotte ( Pray for Obama- Psalm 109:8)
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To: driftdiver
"So he’s still supporting a dead islamic radical but this particular one is a good one?"

Sure, haven't you heard the saying ... The only good islamic radical is a dead one.

4 posted on 07/09/2010 7:20:16 AM PDT by GregoTX
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To: Responsibility2nd

The Houston Chronicle had the same sob story. Neither of the papers printed the sign. That makes me think that it wasn’t as innocent as Mr. Master says.


5 posted on 07/09/2010 7:20:53 AM PDT by FreePaul
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To: Responsibility2nd

Switch to Christianity Sajid. You won’t get any virgins, but you will get eternal salvation.


6 posted on 07/09/2010 7:23:45 AM PDT by aSeattleConservative
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To: driftdiver
It's a 1,400 year-old Shia thing, it's basically what separates the Shiites from the Sunnis. Still, really dumb to specifically tie an Arab name to September 11th in a reverent manner.
7 posted on 07/09/2010 7:26:12 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: driftdiver
So he’s still supporting a dead islamic radical but this particular one is a good one?

It's a 1,400 year-old Shia thing, it's basically what separates the Shiites from the Sunnis. Still, really dumb to specifically tie an Arab name to September 11th in a reverent manner.

8 posted on 07/09/2010 7:26:23 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: Sans-Culotte

“But I fail to see why you would be glad he has taken heat over a mis-perception.”

because he is one that is seeking to further infiltrate America and bring Sharia law here.


9 posted on 07/09/2010 7:26:30 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Sans-Culotte

A mis-perception?

You really think that’s what this was? There are anti-American Muslim plants in America today attempting in subtle and not so subtle ways to disrupt our airports, our schools, and even our malls. But for this guy to close up shop on 9/11 leads me to wonder if he knew full well what the American reaction would be.

And even if he was simply stupid and naive? Stupid should hurt.


10 posted on 07/09/2010 7:27:18 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd (PALIN/MCCAIN IN 2012 - barf alert? sarc tag? -- can't decide)
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To: FreePaul
That makes me think that it wasn’t as innocent as Mr. Master says.

It took me 15 seconds to find the photograph:

(It's at http://www.snopes.com/photos/signs/graphics/martyr.jpg if your browser doesn't load it for some reason)

It appears to be completely innocent, but at the same time is amazingly insensitive.

11 posted on 07/09/2010 7:28:24 AM PDT by justlurking (The only remedy for a bad guy with a gun is a good WOMAN (Sgt. Kimberly Munley) with a gun)
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To: antiRepublicrat

“Still, really dumb to specifically tie an Arab name to September 11th in a reverent manner. “

hey we agree on something!

IMO there are no peaceful islamists.


12 posted on 07/09/2010 7:28:45 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Responsibility2nd

I just don’t trust Muslims. Period! I won’t be surprised if CAIR doesn’t use this to claim that wide spread intimidation of ALL Muslims takes place in America.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think that America was a lot better off when there weren’t so d*^*ed many Muslims in the country.

This guy is either a total fool or he did this deliberately. Either way, I don’t feel sorry for him.


13 posted on 07/09/2010 7:29:17 AM PDT by SkipW
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To: FreePaul

Phenomenally stupid or a planned provocation?

14 posted on 07/09/2010 7:29:32 AM PDT by Pollster1 (Natural born citizen of the USA, with the birth certificate to prove it)
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To: Responsibility2nd; Sans-Culotte

Yeah just like that mosque in New York a block from ground zero. The one they are planning to start construction on 9/11 this year and have a dedication next year on 9/11.


15 posted on 07/09/2010 7:30:24 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: FreePaul
Easy enough to find, and exactly what they said.


16 posted on 07/09/2010 7:31:48 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: Responsibility2nd

Nahh, this guy isn’t naive. Muslims here in America KNOW how sensitive that date is to the people of this nation.

He was sticking his finger in the eye of ‘those’ people. -knowing that as a ‘minority’, he has RIGHTS and will be protected.

This game is played all the time here in our ‘PC’ America.


17 posted on 07/09/2010 7:32:24 AM PDT by J40000
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To: Responsibility2nd

This reminds me of the time when I closed my Sunglass Hut in Karachi for Ash Wednesday and the Islamists murdered my entire village with machetes and gasoline. I can sympathize.


18 posted on 07/09/2010 7:32:52 AM PDT by WhistlingPastTheGraveyard (Some men just want to watch the world burn.)
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To: antiRepublicrat
It's a 1,400 year-old Shia thing, it's basically what separates the Shiites from the Sunnis.

More info from http://www.snopes.com/rumors/photos/martyr.asp:

The Imam Ali was not a modern day terrorist, but a 7th century religious figure, the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, whom Shi'a Muslims regard as the first Imam. (Disagreement over Ali's role in Islamic theology led to the division of Muslims into the Sunni and Shi'a branches of Islam.)

Ali was attacked by an assassin while praying in a mosque on the 19th day of Ramadan and died two days later, so the 21st day of Ramadan is (among the Shi'a branch) a day of special significance, a day for honoring the martyrdom of the Imam Ali. Since the Islamic calendar is based on lunar months with years of 354 or 355 days, the months of the Islamic calendar move around from year to year with respect to the Gregorian calendar. In 2009, the month of Ramadan began on 21 August, and the 21st day of Ramadan therefore coincidentally fell on the date of September 11 by the Gregorian calendar that year.


I believe Shi'a is the predominant branch of Islam in Iran, and Sunni predominates in Saudi Arabia. The conflict between the two branches is also prominent in Iraq.
19 posted on 07/09/2010 7:34:07 AM PDT by justlurking (The only remedy for a bad guy with a gun is a good WOMAN (Sgt. Kimberly Munley) with a gun)
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To: Pollster1

Oh, I’m so LMAO here! He posted it in Spanish too!

lololol

I’m kinda suprized he didn’t post it in Arabic also.


20 posted on 07/09/2010 7:34:20 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd (PALIN/MCCAIN IN 2012 - barf alert? sarc tag? -- can't decide)
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To: GregoTX
Sure, haven't you heard the saying ... The only good islamic radical is a dead one.

Since this one has been dead for 1350 years then he must be approaching great status. </sarcasm>

21 posted on 07/09/2010 7:35:59 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: Pollster1

I showed the pic to my husband and asked him his initial thoughts. He said “Terrorist sympathizer.”

I can’t imagine that the shopkeeper was unaware of the signifigance of the date.


22 posted on 07/09/2010 7:39:48 AM PDT by RoseyT
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To: Responsibility2nd

Right down the street, on Voss(B/t Westhiemer & San Felipe), a terrorist training center..or madrassa, was closed by the FBI due to links with terrorism.

Wonder how many times this POS went there??

Either way, they’re all complicit and the “school” is open again.


23 posted on 07/09/2010 7:39:55 AM PDT by bayouranger (The 1st victim of islam is the person who practices the lie.)
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To: driftdiver
IMO there are no peaceful islamists.

I know a lot of peaceful Muslims who are very happy to be American. Most of these are people, or the children of people, who fled Iran when the Ayatollah took over. America was their savior from an oppressive Muslim theocracy. Given that this guy is obviously Shia, there's a good chance this applies to him.

24 posted on 07/09/2010 7:41:14 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: Responsibility2nd
But Master failed to explain that Ali, who’s remembered on a different date each year during Ramadan, died in AD 661 and was in no way related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Every Islamist back to Muhammad (pi$$ be upon him) is responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and all other Islamic terror. They were the ones who made the rules; convert, enslave or kill anyone who opposes or declines to accept your false god.

25 posted on 07/09/2010 7:41:14 AM PDT by JimRed (To water the Tree of Liberty is to excise a cancer before it kills us. TERM LIMITS, NOW AND FOREVER!)
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To: RoseyT

*significance

...more coffee needed.


26 posted on 07/09/2010 7:42:15 AM PDT by RoseyT
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To: Pollster1
Clearly, obviously provocative. Closing on September 11 to commemorate a moslem figure is one thing, closing on that date to commemorate his “martyrdom” is another. This was by design. They anticipated the backlash, just as they anticipated the sympathetic media response to it.
27 posted on 07/09/2010 7:51:58 AM PDT by WhistlingPastTheGraveyard (Some men just want to watch the world burn.)
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To: antiRepublicrat

“I know a lot of peaceful Muslims who are very happy to be American. “

There are peaceful muslims but there are no peaceful Islamists. The silence from the muslims has been deafening these last 10 years. For the most part they are to afraid or disconnected to condemn what the radicals are doing.

BTW, Muhammed (pig feces upon him) was a radical. The Quran is full of his violence, child rape, and hate. He is the one the radicals use as their example and to justify their violence.


28 posted on 07/09/2010 7:55:22 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Responsibility2nd

Too f-n bad. He has only his fellow Muslims to blame.


29 posted on 07/09/2010 7:58:52 AM PDT by Republic of Texas (Socialism Always Fails)
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To: antiRepublicrat; Pollster1

I have a photo of the sign and also saw it in place. I didn’t know then who Imam Ali was nor do I care now. Putting that sign up on September eleventh was either stupid or an in the face challenge. In either case the sob story about the trials of the store owner don’t impress me since he created this on his own.


30 posted on 07/09/2010 8:09:38 AM PDT by FreePaul
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To: Responsibility2nd

When I first saw that sign (without reading any article) I thought “terrorist sympathizer, America hater”. You can’t make a 2nd 1st impression.


31 posted on 07/09/2010 8:10:04 AM PDT by albie
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To: WhistlingPastTheGraveyard

ROFLMAO! They declared war on September 11th and now, with the mosque in New York, they’re planting their flag.


32 posted on 07/09/2010 8:13:09 AM PDT by Hildy
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To: antiRepublicrat

BTW, Go do Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Eqypt, and most other muslim countries. Try to open a church, try to close your business for a Christian holiday. Try to bring a bible into the country.


33 posted on 07/09/2010 8:27:34 AM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: driftdiver
There are peaceful muslims but there are no peaceful Islamists.

As long as we have our definitions straight, we agree.

BTW, Muhammed (pig feces upon him) was a radical. The Quran is full of his violence, child rape, and hate.

Mohammed tried to improve the Arab culture, which was even more barbaric. The early writings are pretty good, but not original since they were mainly a rehash of Jewish and Christian thought. However, after he gained power the bloodthirsty megalomaniac starts to come out, and you see Mohammed's original thinking. That's why you see all the conflicting messages from the Quran, early "let's get along" quotes overshadowed by later "kill'em all" quotes. Justification for violence is usually found in the latter part.

What's worse is that even with Islam as backwards as it is, the older ways still remain, running concurrently with Islam in various cultures. This is how you get female circumcision associated with Islam in Africa and some of the harsher treatment of women that usually occurs in outlying areas under tribal control.

34 posted on 07/09/2010 8:36:22 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: Responsibility2nd

Bumo to the top. Got some friends who would like to see this.

It was an insensitive sign at best.


35 posted on 07/09/2010 10:49:11 AM PDT by texmexis best (My)
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