When Ayman Wafai, 32, heard about a poster of an Iranian being lynched at a restaurant in Katy, Texas, he couldn’t believe it. So he went to the restaurant in question, Nonmacher’s Bar-B-Que, to see for himself.
What he had heard was true. A poster dating back to 1979 was hanging on a wall. It depicted an Iranian man being lynched and had a quote underneath that said, “Let’s Play Cowboys and IRANIANS!”
Wafai, who is of Syrian descent, talked to the owner, John Nonmacher, whom he described as “a very nice gentleman.”
“I just explained to him that this might be considered a bad thing to have displayed, could be construed as bigoted,” Wafai said.
But Nonmacher said the picture is merely a historical relic. He told ABC News he received the picture in 1979 during the Iranian hostage crisis, when a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American embassy in Tehran, Iran, in support of the Iranian revolution. The poster had been up for 30 years.
Nomancher seemed befuddled by the recent onslaught of attention.
“Nobody’s ever found it offensive before,” he told the ABC station KTRK.
But for Husein Hadi, a local attorney who is Iranian-American, times have changed.
“The times for this sign are over and this is something that happened in the past,” Hadi said. “We’re all Americans, all facing whatever problems come up in Houston. We love Texas as much as any other person. … We need to move on.”
Hadi, along with Wafai and other Texans, plans to protest on Saturday.
A group on Facebook – “OMGWTHBBQ!? – A Peaceful Protest Against Racism” - is calling on people to protest Nonmacher as they “unite as Texans and let the owners of Nonmacher’s BBQ know that them lynchin’ days are over!”
Wafai said that the protests are not being conducted out of ill will.
“Any other day, I would have enjoyed my time there,” he said. “It’s just that if it continues to stay on the wall, more people will think it’s OK to see a lynching.”
Nonmacher said he’s not forcing anyone to come to the restaurant.
“It’s my choice to have it up,” he said. “It’s your choice to go where you want to go. But I’m not going to take it down.”