The founder of the Greek yogurt company Chobani has been thrust into a vitriolic debate over the European migrant crisis, and now he and his supporters are being targeted with death threats as a result.
Hamdi Ulukaya, who is a Turkish immigrant of Kurdish descent, employs more than 300 refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, and other countries in his factories in New York and Twin Falls, Idaho, The New York Times’ David Gelles reports.
He has also founded an organisation supporting refugees called Tent.
Ulukaya’s support of refugees went relatively unnoticed until January, when he gave a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, encouraging other companies to help refugees.
Following his speech, the far-right website WND published a story titled “American Yogurt Tycoon Vows to Choke U.S. With Muslims,” the Times reports.
Then the conservative website Breitbart News began running a series of negative stories on Chobani and Ulukaya.
The stories tied Chobani’s hiring of refugees to two rape cases in Idaho, as well as to a spike in Tuberculosis in the state. Another said the company has “deep ties” to the Clinton campaign. We’ve found no evidence to support these claims.
The articles have inspired boycott threats, hate speech, and death threats targeting Chobani, Ulukaya, and even the mayor of Twin Falls, Idaho, who supports Chobani. Many of the threats are coming from supporters of presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to Business Insider’s analysis of the hashtag “boycott Chobani” that has been trending on Twitter.
“It got woven into a narrative that it’s all a cover-up, that we’re all trying to keep the refugees safe so that Chobani has its work force, that I personally am getting money from the Obama administration to help Chobani hire whoever they want, that it’s part of this Islamification of the United States,” Twin Falls mayor Shawn Barigar told The New York Times. “It’s crazy.”
Chobani didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Here’s a sample of what Chobani’s critics are saying on Twitter.
COVERING UP SYRIAN REFUGEES RAPE