A sign taped on the glass of a Perfume Planet store at the Harwin Central Mart in Houston, Texas, caused a great deal of consternation (and outrage) among Americans in mid-September 2009, the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.:
I only go to Harwin Drive to buy rhinestones when I don’t have time to order in from my wholesale source.
Today I went to the Harwin Central Mall to pick up some crystals.
The very first store that you come to when you walk from the lobby of the building into the shopping area had this sign posted on their door.
I couldn’t stay in the building it made me so sick.
Feel free to share this with others.
Many viewers took the sign’s statement that the store would be closed on
Although the sign was real, its common interpretation was erroneous: None of the 9/11 hijackers was named “Ali,” and the word “Imam” is not a name but rather a title (akin to “rabbi” or “minister”) that refers to a Muslim religious leader. The Imam Ali was not a modern day terrorist; he was a
Ali was attacked by an assassin while praying in a mosque on the
The Perfume Planet’s manager explained his reaction to the confusion caused by the controversial signage:
Store manager Imran Chunawala was stunned [by the reaction] because the holiday had nothing to do with 9/11.
Then he realized what happened. Imam Ali died on the
21st dayof Ramadan in the year 661 AD.It’s a somber and significant holy day for Muslims. This year it coincidentally fell on September 11.
“We did not explain enough in the sign because that is the same sign we put up every year on this particular day for this particular reason,” said Chunawala.
He apologized for the confusion and put up a new sign thoroughly explaining the martyr they were honoring died in
“If people thought that that’s what this was about, I apologize,” Chunawala said. “That was not what this was about. I’m clarifying once again and I seriously am sorry for any misunderstanding that this caused.”
Several months later, the store’s proprietors remained the targets of hostile criticism over the misunderstanding:
Sajid Master, who owns the store, was accused of being an
al-Qaidasupporter. Since then, he says, he has received hate mail, threatening phone calls and personal visits.
Master, a U.S. citizen, and his employees have tried to talk to everyone and to answer all letters. But Master says the calls keep coming, usually dying down only to pick up when someone starts a new e-mail chain letter.
In 2018, the month of Ramadan fell between
Azad, Sonia. “Store’s Sign Causes Controversy.
KTRK-TV [Houston]. 16 September 2009.
Chow, Shern-Min. “Houston Store’s Decision to Honor Muslim Martyr Causes Misunderstanding.”
KHOU-TV [Houston]. 17 September 2009.
UPI. “Muslim Shopkeeper Threatened in Houston.”
9 July 2010.