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Muslim Sign in Houston Mall Protest Message – The Martyrdom of Imam Ali

by Brett M. Christensen


Protest email claims that a sign posted on the door of a Muslim owned shop in Houston in September 2009, honoured one of the September 11 hijackers who flew the aircraft into the World Trade Center. 

Brief Analysis

This sign was indeed posted on the door of a shop at Harwin Central Mall in Houston, Texas in September 2009. However, aside from the date, the sign has no relationship whatsoever with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Imam Ali, the person named on the offending sign, was not one of the September 11 hijackers as claimed in the protest message. In fact, Imam Ali is a holy man much venerated in the Islamic religion and he is viewed by Muslims as the successor to Muhammad himself. Imam Ali died hundreds of years ago in the year 661 AD.


Subject: Fw: Fwd: Sign in Houston Mall

What enrages me is that Americans would shop there!!!! Now, this is stepping over the line.


This is so “Unbelievable”….

In Houston …

Harwin Central Mall: 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. The shop is run by Muslims. Feel free to share this with others.

(Transcript of sign)
“We will be closed on Friday, September 11, 2009 to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Ali (A.S.)”

Sign in Houston Mall protest message

Imam Ali flew one of the planes into the twin towers.

Nice huh?
Try telling me we’re not in a

Religious war!



Detailed Analysis

This outraged protest message, which circulates via email, blogs and social networking websites, decries the 2009 posting in a Houston Mall of a sign which it claims payed homage to one of the hijackers responsible for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. 
The message includes a photograph of the sign, which read “We will be closed on Friday, September 11, 2009 to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Ali (A.S.)”. According to the message, Imam Ali, the person identified as a martyr on the offending sign, was one of the terrorists who flew a plane into the World Trade Center.

The photograph itself is genuine and depicts a real sign that was hung on the door of the “Perfume Planet” store in Houston’s Harwin Central Mall in September 2009 by its Muslim store manager, Imran Chunawala.

However, the claim in the protest message that Imam Ali was one of the 9/11 hijackers is an outright lie. There is no person of that name recorded on the FBI list of 9/11 hijackers. In fact, Imam Ali -“Imam” is simply a word for a Muslim religious leader – is a very important historical figure in the Islamic religion and is considered to be the imam who succeeded the Prophet Muhammad.

Imam Ali died, not in a hijacked aircraft in 2001, but many centuries ago in the year 661 AD. The imam died on the 21st day of Ramadan of that year. In an unfortunate coincidence, the 21st day of Ramadan happened to fall on September 11 in the year 2009, thus causing a great deal of misunderstanding among mall visitors and – subsequently – the public at large courtesy of the Internet.

An article about the misunderstanding caused by the sign published on Houston news outlet, notes:

Store manager Imran Chunawala was stunned because the holiday had nothing to do with 9 /11. Then he realized what happened. This year a key Ramadan Holiday happened to fall on 9/11. “We did not explain enough in the sign because that is the exact 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 661 AD.

Given the date of the store’s holiday, it is not at all surprising that the sign caused so much confusion and consternation. That said, it seems clear that the store manager meant no disrespect, even though the placing of the sign with such wording at that particular time of the year was certainly ill conceived.

Although the initial confusion caused by the sign is certainly understandable, it is hard to imagine how Imam Ali’s name was misidentified in the subsequent protest email as one of the 2001 hijackers other than by a deliberate and wilful act of deception.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,