Hate Mail and Death Threats Target Seller of Mohammed Cartoon T-shirts

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After a week of selling Mohammed cartoon t-shirts, online retailer MetroSpy has become inundated with hate email, virus attacks and death threats.

Conservative t-shirt maker MetroSpy set off a firestorm when their newest design depicted a caricature of the prophet Mohammed with a bomb wrapped in his turban. According to Islamic tradition, graphic depictions of the Prophet Mohammed are forbidden. MetroSpy's apparent disregard for this tradition has outraged many in the Muslim world, prompting some to voice their displeasure by sending the company hate-filled email, online viruses and even death threats.

Johnathan Alexander, MetroSpy's production manager, says he's never seen anything like it. “It's a silly little cartoon. We've sold designs far more offensive than this for years”, referring to a t shirt which reads, “My Jesus can beat up your Allah.”

“For people to become so enraged over a drawing that they resort to burning down buildings and threatening to kill people is something I'll never understand,” Alexander said.

In one email the person writes, “We kill you and burn your shop. I am Muslim with forces in the U.S.A.”

Another email claims to be from the terrorist group Al Qaeda. It reads, “You only have 5 days and your company will disappear. I promise!” The email is signed, Saalem Al Qahtani, Al Qaeda.

One of the more disturbing messages simply says, “In two days we kill your family."

Over the past few days, MetroSpy has begun posting some of the emails on their website (http://www.shopmetrospy.com/).

According to Alexander, “Ever since we started posting the messages along with the sender's return address, the volume of hate mail has slowed down and the tone has changed considerably. In fact, some of the more recent comments could be considered polite.”

In an email which was traced to Saudi Arabia, the writer asks, “Could you guys do a favor? Please eliminate this picture from your goods because it's very embarrassing to our religion. If you do that, it would be a greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot.”

Another says, “I am sending this e-mail and I hope that you understand that what you are doing is offending more than a billion people in the world. I hope that your sales with other stuff be billions but not for this one offending product.”

Altogether, MetroSpy has received more than five hundred hate emails and attempted virus attacks.

Donia Saber of Elk Grove, California is an Islamic activist who writes, “I am deeply offended at the t-shirt company MetroSpy. Selling shirts with a picture of the Prophet is unacceptable and I assure you the Muslim community will not tolerate this.”

Despite protests over their offending design, MetroSpy plans to continue selling the t-shirts. As a precautionary measure however, MetroSpy has increased its security, sought the advice of a private investigative agency and remain in close contact with federal and local authorities.

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Nate Thomas
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