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News ::
Republican Representatives Stunt Leads to Firebombing (english)
21 Mar 2003
Modified: 10:27:40 AM
Fire destroyed the French Cleaners in Modesto early Wednesday, and later that morning the owners discovered obscene graffiti at their Turlock store and pellet holes in a window of the Ceres store.

Here is the e mail I wrote:
I read about your and Bob Ney changing the House cafeteria menu to "freedom fries and toast" in an attempt to rebuke France over,whether one agrees or not,the exercising of their rights.
I just want you and NEY to read what you brought to a family here in my hometown:

Published: March 20, 2003, 11:51:24 AM PST

Fire destroyed the French Cleaners in Modesto early Wednesday, and later that morning the owners discovered obscene graffiti at their Turlock store and pellet holes in a window of the Ceres store.
The destruction and damage came on the eve of the U.S.-led attack on Iraq, for which the United States tried and failed to get French support at the United Nations.

Police are treating the incidents in different ways.

Turlock police spokeswoman Rosemary Howser said someone scratched "F--- the French" on a window at French Cleaners at 2679 Geer Road, and officers have labeled the graffiti a hate crime. The damaged window eventually shattered.

Someone fired a pellet gun at the Ceres store, 2908 E. Whitmore Ave., and Sgt. Howard Stevenson said police are treating the incident as vandalism.

A passer-by reported the fire at the Modesto French Cleaners at 2:30 a.m. Hugo Patino, a battalion chief with the Fire Department, estimated damage of $500,000 at the store at 950 Oakdale Road, just north of Scenic Drive.

He declined to classify the fire as suspicious, saying only that all possible causes were under investigation.

Members of the family that owns the stores blamed a wave of anti-French sentiment.

"The media were all over the French, with the french fries and the 'freedom' bread," said Pierre Frik, who owns and operates French Cleaners with his wife, Samira.

Frik, who became a U.S. citizen after immigrating from Lebanon in 1977, is Assyrian, not French. He and his wife opened their trio of French Cleaners stores in January 2002, and chose an Eiffel Tower logo to go with the name.

Sandra Giarde, executive director of the California Cleaners Association, said French laundry and French cleaners have been popular terms for years, conveying "a sense of cachet, a sense of being upper-class."

She said she had not heard of any attacks on cleaners with "French" in their names.

Frenchness fell from favor after France opposed the United States in its bid for U.N. approval for war against Iraq.

Last month, some restaurants -- including one in Modesto -- started using the term "freedom" fries instead of french fries. The U.S. House of Representatives cafeteria followed suit earlier this month.

Also, Frik said other drivers made obscene finger gestures at his van with French Cleaners on its side.

Frik said he had feared since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that his Middle Eastern appearance might draw hostility. For that reason, he said, he always carries his U.S. passport.

But he said never expected the name French Cleaners to draw public ire.

Frik, who came to America after the violence of Lebanon's civil war destroyed his construction business there, said the damage to his stores angers and saddens him.

"All I can say is, 'God forgive,'" Frik said. "We are not hatred people. We came from those countries where there are hatreds."

His daughter, 23-year-old Halma Frik, jotted down her thoughts in a quick letter after the fire.

"The French Cleaners name is not a political stand," she wrote. "It's a business. We are not the enemy."

Frik said his Ceres and Turlock stores remain open, and he does not know yet whether he will reopen his Modesto store. He said he leased the space and had insurance on the business.

He said he and his wife probably would have to go back to work at a friend's dry-cleaning business to supplement their income.

"The politicians and the media, they should be a little bit careful," Frik said of anti-French sentiments. "What they say, it hurts the others."

Frik said customers who lost clothes at the Modesto store would be compensated. He said he was waiting to hear from his insurance company about the procedure for customers to follow.

Great publicity stunt fellas.You and Ney owe a huge apology to this family,whom I don't even know but am outraged just the same at your stupid actions which encouraged fringe elements,who after viewing CNN took this anti-France stance further.I'm posting this on the internet so that your mailbox and phone lines will be tied up and the message sinks in that public officials are supposed to be responsible and own up to their mistakes especially when the businesses of AMERICANS are firebombed.
Mark Anderson
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flaming idiots! = bush supporters (english)
21 Mar 2003
what kind of flaming idiot will torch a store because they don't like it's name? we are not talking about some kind of offensive name, like "Rapist Buffet." we are talking about "French Cleaners." Is there anyone ignorant enough to become agitated to the point of arson over the word "French?" This is beyond psychopathology, it is some kind of mental degeneration to the point of total dysfunction... oh, yeah, I forgot about Republicans!

well, that explains it.

Time to get off your ass people, bring down BUSH and the GOP bastards who are marching in lockstep to fascism and doom for these United States!