A Texas restaurant owner is under fire for his refusal to remove a poster that depicts a group of armed men posing underneath a Middle Eastern man being hanged.
The black-and-white sign features the caption, "Let's play cowboys and Iranians!"
John Nonmacher, owner of Nonmacher's Bar-B-Q in Katy, Texas, said he's been flooded with angry calls since a customer took a photo of the sign and put it on Facebook earlier this week. Still, he's not taking it down.
"It's my choice to have it up. It's your choice to go where you want to go. But I'm not going to take it down," Nonmacher told Houston ABC affiliate KTRK-TV.
Nonmacher said he put the poster up 30 years ago during the Iranian hostage crisis and has never had a complaint until now. He said a customer gave it to him and he put it next to several others that were meant to be humorous.
Ayman Wafai didn't find it funny. He told the station he came in to eat and was disturbed by the poster.
"You know it's 2011, looking at it now, I see nothing really more than a display of racism and bigotry," he said. "I don't think something like this should really be accepted by any community."
Nonmacher said since the controversy started he's been getting calls from as far away as New York. The majority of calls have come from people who have never been to eat at the restaurant, he added.
"This is just a smear campaign. All they want is to get the sign down and I don’t want to take it down,” Nonmacher told Houston's KHOU-TV.
As of Friday morning, an online petition for the poster's removal had garnered nearly 190 signatures.
One signer, Helen Kamali, said even though the poster is considered free speech, "there is nothing good that can come from being blatantly ignorant about an entire ethnicity."
"It only goes to show how when this country is done oppressing a group of people they move on to the next," Kamali wrote. "Up until the 1960s it was African Americans and in today's society it's people of Middle Eastern descent."
Watch a video report below. [Note: The video may take a moment to load — you can also try refreshing the page if it doesn't appear.]
Take our poll, containing both Blaze and reader-submitted questions:
(H/T: 740 AM KTRH)