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A poster on the wall of a barbecue restaurant depicting a hanging Iranian has sparked outrage and accusations of racism.
The sepia picture in Nonmacher’s Bar-B-Q in Katy, Texas shows armed men surrounding the hanged man and includes the caption: ‘Let’s play cowboys and Iranians.’
One member of the lynch mob wears a shirt that reads: ‘Iranians Suck.’
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Outrage: A poster in a Texas restaurant that reads 'Let's play cowboys and Iranians' below a man hanging has sparked accusations of racism
But despite cries of racism and threats of a protest on Saturday, the owner of Nonmacher’s has refused to remove the poster.
John Nonmacher said: ‘This is still America. If they're not happy here, then they should go back to Iran.
‘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.’
Mr Nonmacher said the poster, which was taken in 1979 by photographer Mark McGarr, went on the wall when Americans were held hostage during the Iranian Revolution 30 years ago.
Defiant: Restaurant owner John Nonmacher says he will not remove the poster which he put on the wall when Americans were held hostage in Iran 30 years ago
The 52 hostages, who were held at the American Embassy in Iran for 444 days, were all released without harm by their Islamist captors in 1981.
The poster has garnered criticism from across the country after one customer took a picture and posted it on Facebook, creating the group ‘Nonmacher's BBQ racism towards Iranians’.
Ayman Wafai, a Houston energy engineer of Syrian heritage, spoke to the owner after his wife spotted the picture.
He said: ‘You know it’s 2011. Looking at it now, I see nothing really more than a display of racism and bigotry.’
'Spreading like wildfire': The barbecue restaurant in Katy, Texas is receiving scores of phone calls every day from people complaining about the poster
He added: 'Imagine this is a picture of an African American, and this is a public restaurant, and they have a picture of a man being lynched ... an African American being lynched. How ridiculous is that?'
Now hundreds of users of the social networking site have vented their anger on the page and vow to stage a protest at the restaurant this Saturday.
Hundreds have also signed an online petition to remove the poster.
Thanks to the websites, Nonmacher's is receiving scores of phone calls each day.
‘This thing has spread like wildfire and we are getting phone calls from New York and everywhere else,’ Mr Nonmacher told KHOU-Channel 11.
‘This is just a smear campaign. All they want is to get the sign down.’
Protest: Hundreds of offended people have signed an online petition to remove the poster, which they believe is 'a display of racism and bigotry'
He added that the poster was simply meant to be humorous.
When asked by local reporters about an entire ethnicity being singled out in the poster, Mr Nonmacher replied: ‘I don't find it that way. I don't find that discriminatory.'